Thousands of people have signed a petition urging London’s transport body Transport for London (TfL) to reopen the night Tube this winter to help keep women and girls safe.
Ella Watson, who launched the petition, is calling for the service to resume after it was shut in response to the outbreak of coronavirus in the city last year.
The 26-year-old said the decision to pause the 24-hour service on the London Underground means women will be forced to get taxis home at night instead, adding that the outcry following the murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard has reinforced how unsafe women and girls feel walking home at night.
Her petition, launched on Change.org, has reached more than 75,000 signatures so far.
— Ella Watson (@ellagracewatson) September 30, 2021
Only petitions hosted on the official Parliament website are debated by MPs once they reach 100,000 signatures.
She told the PA news agency: “I launched the petition because I was looking for one similar to sign and it didn’t exist. I understand what it’s like to be a woman and feel unsafe traveling home in London, especially at night.
“The removal of the night tube has a disproportionate impact on women who are more likely to sexually assaulted in public and it seems this has been completely overlooked.”
Writing on the page, Ms Watson said: “In the UK and London women and girls are unsafe on the streets, especially at night. The rightful outcry at the recent murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard on London’s streets, epitomises the fear women face of walking alone or standing on the streets in the evening and at night.
“The decision taken by TfL to keep the night tube closed over the winter of 2021/2022 will have a disproportionate impact on women and low-income groups, with women forced to take expensive taxis home during the busy festive season as a result of being unsafe in public.”
Andy Lord, managing director of London Underground, said the “feasibility” of reintroducing one or two lines night tube lines more quickly is being “explored”.
He added that ensuring women and girls travel safely on London public transport is an “absolute priority” for the service.
Ms Watson, an environment and development masters graduate from the London School of Economics, said TfL looking at reintroducing one or two lines is a “positive start” but more work needed to be done.
“How can they justify selecting certain lines when this is an issue that affects women across the whole of London?” she told PA.
“They will still be jeopardising the safety of women who live in the areas where the lines remain closed. I would also like to see some solid commitments rather than vague promises in terms of the lines in question.”
Mr Lord said: “We are running as close to a full service as possible across all our services and the Tube continues to serve central London with last trains leaving around 01:00 and starting again at 05:30.
“We want to reopen the Night Tube as quickly as possible but the pandemic limited our ability to train drivers and we have had to deploy available drivers to maintain a reliable service during the daytime across the week.
“We are continuing to review how we might be able to reintroduce the full Friday and Saturday Night Tube in a safe and viable way as soon as possible.”
The night Tube was first launched in August 2016 under London mayor Sadiq Khan.
It saw selected lines on TfL’s network run a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays.