Trying – and failing – to catch the dreaded last train home has been ruining nights out since time immemorial. “Sorry mate, I have to leave this club at 11.55pm or my train back to Dartford’s gonna leave without me,” is quite possibly the lamest line ever delivered. And I know this from experience.
That’s what makes this new development so exciting. Mark Carne, the boss of Network Rail, has said in an interview that 24-hour trains could be coming to the UK very soon.
The train boss told the Times: “If you have a 24-hour Tube, it is not going to be long before people want 24-hour availability of rail systems.”
Mr Carne, who’ll be stepping down as chief executive of Network Rail in the summer, said the company was looking at ways to prepare for more around-the-clock services.
“I am anticipating that my customers - the train operating companies - will come to me in the not-too-distant future and tell me they want to run 24-hour trains,” he said.
“And I have got to be prepared for that and that’s why we’re thinking today about what that would look like.”
Of course, it would great if they could sort out the daytime trains first - and make tickets cheaper. Labour peer Andrew Adonis said on Twitter: “Classic Network Rail hubris. Its chief executive boasting of 24 hour service soon - but Network Rail can’t even run a half decent service in the daylight hours. Sort out the day job first!”
But we’re all for more trains, even if they are at night.
At the minute, these are the only train lines that run all night, according to the BBC:
- Thameslink’s London Victoria-Gatwick route
- Transpennine Express’s York-Manchester Airport line
- East London line (at weekends)
Reacting to the news, a spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said: “Train companies will consider timetable changes where there is demand, where it will boost night-time economies and improve transport interchanges.
“A balance must be struck, though, between ensuring reliable infrastructure, which will require regular maintenance - usually done at night - and meeting the needs of customers outside traditional hours.”