THOUSANDS of London Underground staff are being sent to work in a new station with no paying customers.

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The old joke that the Tube system would be fine it wasn’t for those pesky passengers seems to have come true in the shape of West Ashfield station, where all the usual Underground kit – like trains, platforms and Oyster machines – is there, except for real punters.

If you haven’t heard of West Ashfield station, that’s because it is a pretend station in Kensington, to be used only for staff training purposes.

“We have replicated an arena that does everything we do on the front line, and makes staff much more confident about dealing with a live situation,” said Jim Sitch, Development Manager at London Underground.

That sounds convincing, but it has also been revealed that West Ashfield, which opened late last year, has its own model railway for signal staff to play on and was built by people whose previous jobs include Thorpe Park.

You can see why staff might fancy a fantasy, passenger-free station, though. There are plenty of rum types down there, people who now have a facebook group dedicated to them.

Described as a being, “dedicated to finding, photographing, cataloging and archiving Odd Looking Commuters around the world,” the OLC started earlier this month and already has nearly 1,500 members.

Some of the choices seem a bit harsh, size-ist and beard-ist, but no one wants a dopey Smurph looking over their shoulder, for sure.