Sat. May 28th, 2022

One of the reasons London Underground is so attractive is its “walk-up-and-go” service. In theory, this means you should be able to look up to any station on the network, and within 15 minutes a train will take you on to your destination.

However, there are a few places where trains do not run as often. Woodford to Hainault on the Central line, Amersham and Chesham to Chalfont & Latimer on the Metropolitan line and the Waterloo & City line are closed on Sundays. There is also Kensington Olympia on the District line, which is a total anomaly. It is the only ‘part-time station’ on the 272-station underground network.

Since December 2011, the District Line Service has been advertised as “open on weekends and public holidays”. There are actually seven departures on weekdays in the morning between 5.50 and 7.15 from Olympia to Earl’s Court and two return journeys between Earl’s Court and Olympia on weekday evenings between 7.43 and 20.43, but these journeys are not well advertised.

READ MORE:The one station where you will only see a London Underground in the middle of a winter night.

There is no information screen on the Tube platform at Olympia, but there are pink Oyster readers for those who use the limited tube service to get a cheaper fare. Contrary to what the sign suggests, this photo was taken on a Tuesday

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The decision to cut down on everyday traffic to just nine took one way and two the other was taken by then-Mayor Boris Johnson, as the London Overground connection to Kensington Olympia had recently been increased. It runs from West Brompton station, just two minutes away and also on the District line.

The London Overground service was increased on weekdays from every 30 minutes in 2007 to every 10-20. minute with newer, longer trains from 2009, which made the District line service at the station look like a poor return on investment for TfL, which could use the reserve. Underground trains to provide additional district line trains elsewhere. Local residents and the Olympia Center have repeatedly asked TfL to restore the full everyday service.

Currently, on weekends, when there are fewer trains elsewhere on the District line and exhibitions take place in the Olympia Exhibition Center next to the station, TfL still offers the station an underground connection. The trains run as a shuttle service every 20 minutes between Kensington Olympia and High Street Kensington, which calls at Earl’s Court, a rare example of an entire subway journey that stays in the same borough.

In the near future, the station’s remaining Tube service is not threatened. This is because Kensington Olympia has a direct rail connection to the Lillie Bridge depot, where the District Line trains are stored overnight. However, this depot is set to close in 2024 due to the redevelopment of nearby Earl’s Court, which could mean TfL gives Olympia chopped once and for all.

Before 2011, District Line trains ran most of the day to Olympia, and there was no underground service from West Brompton, which at the time was a part-time subway station in itself.

Now the Olympia metro station is part-time, and passengers are advised to change at West Brompton for above-ground trains to Olympia on weekdays

The station’s real asset to TfL is to be a return facility that turns the right way. It can be used when there is interference elsewhere on the District Line to turn trains without interfering with other lines or District Line branches. If there is a problem on the branches of Ealing Broadway, Richmond or Wimbledon, the trains can be diverted to Kensington Olympia and then return to the busiest part of the line between Earl’s Court and Upminster to ensure that the disturbance does not spread. This is a luxury not found on other busy subway lines.

In short, Kensington Olympia can randomly receive dozens of “extra” subway trains a day, which pop up for various unplanned reasons in addition to those actually scheduled. The trains can show up on one platform, they can use at the station completely unannounced, without anyone expecting them.

As a result of all of the above, Kensington Olympia is technically the least used station on the London Underground. TfL estimates that only 35,234 people traveled there by subway in the year 2020/2021. In contrast, the busiest tube station, Stratford, saw the same amount of people use it in just half a day.

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Have you ever accidentally ended up on a rarely planned or unplanned district train to Olympia on weekdays? Tell us in the comments below.

You can read all of MyLondon’s Tube-related news stories, features and trivia pieces on our dedicated page here.


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