The one station where you’ll only see London Underground trains in the middle of a winter’s night

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There’s a rather unassuming station in the heart of North West London which holds an important place in Tube trivia.

You won’t find the classic red and blue Underground roundels on the platforms, there’s no Tube trains on the passenger timetables there and yet in the dead of the night at certain times of year, Tube trains will make occasional appearances.

It’s not exactly a ghost station though. For the remainder of the year for eighteen hours per day, it is served by frequent London Overground trains. It’s also a less than five minute walk from a nearby Tube station meaning the area is firm London Underground territory.

Got it yet? Remember it from that pub quiz? Of course! It’s Kilburn High Road station, and here’s why…

READ MORE : Passengers to sue two London rail companies for £93million after cheaper fares loophole ‘hidden’ for years



A Bakerloo line train making a rare daytime appearance at Kilburn High Road. Note the platform is too high for the train



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The London Underground Bakerloo line is the only Tube line which has a trainshed (a place where trains can be stored overnight ) directly on the passenger line.

It means that unusually throughout the day trains run through a sort of ‘car park for trains’ between Kensal Green at Queen’s Park. At night, when the Bakerloo line is not running in passenger service, trains park up here and effectively block the line.

This creates a problem on cold nights in autumn or winter where snow or leaves fall onto the line and cause potentially dangerous conditions. If the track is not cleared, trains could get stranded or severely delayed as they either struggle to collect the electricity from the electrified rails below or have to run at reduced speed.

As a result, London Underground sends empty Bakerloo line trains up and down the open section of the Bakerloo line between Harrow & Wealdstone and Queen’s Park but because the line is blocked between Kensal Green and Queen’s Park when the trainshed is occupied overnight, there is nowhere for these ‘trackwarming’ trains to turn around.

The solution is provided by Kilburn High Road station. Instead of running through the trainshed between Kensal Green and Queen’s Park, the ‘trackwarming’ empty Bakerloo line trains use the London Overground line instead between Kensal Green and Queen’s Park.

As there is not a turnback facility at Queen’s Park, they continue to the next station on that Overground line, Kilburn High Road.



TfL’s track map shows Kilburn High Road as part of the Bakerloo line

This is possible because there are four rails provided up to Kilburn High Road station. Tube trains need four rails to operate correctly but Overground trains on this line only need three.

At Kilburn High Road, they can stop at platform 1, the driver can change ends and drive the train over a crossover to the opposite track back to Harrow & Wealdstone, through Queen’s Park and Kensal Green.

Even if the London Underground for whatever reason wanted to provide a Tube service to Kilburn High Road, it would not be able to let Tube trains take passengers there.

This is because the platforms at Kilburn High Road are only suitable for the height of London Overground trains. If a Tube train pulled up full of passengers, some would have to climb or jump up to the platform because the gap is so large.

Infrequently, Tube trains can make daytime appearances at Kilburn High Road, for driver training purposes, to check the fourth rail is working correctly or if the trainshed is blocked for an unexpected reason.



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