Cranes lift Dutch runaway train off whale sculpture

SPIJKENISSE, Netherlands : The front carriage of a Dutch metro train that landed on a sculpture of a whale’s tail after plowing through the end of an elevated section of rails was painstakingly lifted clear of the artwork Tuesday and lowered to the ground.

A salvaging crew prepares to attach chains to lift to a metro train carriage of the whale's tail of a sculpture after it rammed through the end of an elevated section of rails with the driver escaping injuries in Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A salvaging crew prepares to attach chains to lift to a metro train carriage of the whale’s tail of a sculpture after it rammed through the end of an elevated section of rails with the driver escaping injuries in Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The train was left precariously balanced on the whale’s tail 10 meters (33 feet) above the ground Monday, after plunging off the end of a metro line in Spijkenisse, a town on the southern edge of Rotterdam. 

Two large yellow cranes worked in tandem Tuesday, placing chains around the front and rear of the train’s foremost carriage to support it. In an operation that started at dawn and lasted into the darkness of evening, workers also cut it loose from another carriage and removed its wheels before the train was lowered slowly to the ground.

The overhanging section of a subway car is lifted off a sculpture in the shape of a whale’s tail where it ended up the day before in Spijkenisse, near the port city of Rotterdam on November 3, 2020. A runaway Dutch metro train was saved from disaster on November 2, 2020 after it smashed through a stop barrier but then came to rest on a giant sculpture of a whale’s tail. Instead of crashing into the water 10 metres (30 feet) below, the front carriage ended up suspended dramatically in the air, propped up only by the silver cetacean. The driver of the train, which had no passengers on board, was unharmed in the fluke incident which happened just after midnight at Spijkenisse. In a twist of fate, the fortuitously positioned artwork is called “Saved by the Whale’s Tail”. Marco de Swart / ANP / AFP.

About 30 people watching the operation cheered as the front carriage finally was separated from the rest of the train amid gathering darkness and cheered again when it was deposited on the ground. 

The train was empty at the time it crashed onto the sculpture and the driver escaped unhurt, thanks to the whale tail’s unlikely catch.

The local security authority said the driver was interviewed by police Monday as part of the investigation into the cause of the crash and allowed to go home.

Cranes safely lifted a Dutch metro carriage off a huge sculpture of a whale’s tail on Tuesday, a day after the artwork stopped the runaway train from crashing to the ground.
PHOTO: AFP

In a painstaking, dawn-to-dusk operation, emergency services cut the 22-tonne front carriage from the rest of the train on Tuesday before two enormous yellow cranes lifted it to the ground.

“It took some more time than we actually wanted to,” Carly Gorter, spokesperson for the Rotterdam-Rijnmond safety region, told AFP at the scene. 

“It is because we couldn’t really see what was under there (the carriage) and we found some things that we didn’t calculate so that was a safety risk.” 

Some superficial damage could be seen on the 20-year-old sculpture, which stands in a local park and is coincidentally named “Saved by the Whale’s Tail”. 

The driver of the train was unhurt in the incident and there were no passengers on board at the time. 

Gorter said the cause of the crash remains “really unclear” but that Dutch authorities were hoping that the train’s “black box” data recorder, located in the front carriage, would provide more clues.

Source : Agence France-Presse / ASSOCIATED PRESS

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