News International has confirmed plans to take on the Evening Standard with a free afternoon newspaper for London.
Thelondonpaper will have a print run of 400,000 and be distributed by 700 people handing it out in Central London and Canary Wharf. The launch date is September 18.
The new launch pre-empts the current tender process for companies bidding to distribute a free paper using the distribution racks at train and tube stations used by Associated Newspapers for its free morning paper Metro.
That process is not expected to be completed for some weeks – or even months – yet.
The new title is expected to be distributed between 4.30pm and 7.30pm in a bid to target commuters on their way home.
The Evening Standard already distributes 78,954 copies of its own Lite free edition at lunchtimes in central London.
The main paid-for edition of the Evening Standard has been declining in recent years and averaged 309,908 sales a day in June.
It is believed that Thelondonpaper will have more of an emphasis on London news than Metro – which nearly all national and international in focus – providing the first direct competition for the Evening Standard since Robert Maxwell briefly published the London Daily News in 1987.