Stay away from social media and and get the bike out again: two more tube strikes have been announced.
Unions and tube bosses entered into new talks - the first since the last strike - at the conciliation service Acas this morning, but they have seemingly ended in failure, with Union bosses announcing two new 24-hour walkouts.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT), the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite unions have all announced that they will be striking, with station staff walking out at 18:30 BST and drivers from 21:00 BST on Tuesday 25 August and Thursday 27 August, with both walk-outs lasting 24-hours. It is unclear whether this will effectively mean a 26 and a half hour gap in services, due to the overlap. The train drivers' union ASLEF has not announced what action it will take - although it's unlikely that drivers will cross picket lines, even if they themselves are not striking.
The stations and lines to run through the night were revealed back in June, with a start date of 12 September. However, since then there's been nothing but trouble, with two strikes by workers and, with their concerns seemingly still not addressed, another two on the way.
Steve Griffiths, CEO of London Underground said before the new double strike announcement: “We are working towards September 12 for the delivery of Night Tube and are operationally ready, but, as we have always said, this cannot be at any cost. We have made an extremely fair offer and, as we have shown already, we are prepared to be flexible to reshape it to best suit our staff. We are back at Acas today to meet with the union leaderships and are committed to positive engagement to reach a deal.”
However, a source told the Evening Standard that new dates are being looked at, saying:
“There is no deal in place yet to run night trains — there is still a huge amount of work to be done and the supposed opening is in little over four weeks’ time. It just isn’t going to happen. Other dates are now being considered. Everything hinges on a deal being done.”
London's mayor Boris Johnson had previously suggested that the unions have been fixated on the launch date of the night tube, in order to use it as a negotiating tool, but said he doesn’t "give a monkey’s" as long as it is running by the end of the autumn.
Previous accusations from rail workers suggested that the whole idea of the night tube had been a pet project of Johnson's, announced before due diligence had been completed on its practicality. Driver Mick Davey wrote, "I personally believe that TfL do not want to run a Night Tube service as it will cost them millions, the train and track are maintained to a minimum standard as it is but the Mayor of London announced it before it was ever discussed so they had to push ahead with it."