SPIJKENISSE, NETHERLANDS – It really was a fluke.
The driver of a subway train escaped injuries when the front carriage hit the end of an elevated section of the tracks and was caught by a whale-tail sculpture near the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.
The train was left perched on one of the two tail fins known as “flounders”, several meters (yards) above the ground.
It created such unrest locally that the authorities asked tourists to stay away, adding that restrictions on the coronavirus were in place.
Still, about 50 people were at the scene late Monday morning while engineers were trying to figure out how to stabilize and remove the train amid strong winds.
“A team of experts is investigating how we can make it safe and remove it,” said Carly Gorter, a spokesman for the local security authority, in a telephone interview.
“It’s complicated,” she added.
The architect who designed the sculpture, Maarten Struijs, told Dutch broadcaster RTL that he was satisfied that it probably saved the driver’s life.
“I am surprised it is so strong,” he said. “If the plastic has been standing for 20 years, you don’t expect it to hold a subway car.”
The company that operates the metro line said the driver was uninjured and there were no passengers on the train when he crashed into barriers at the end of the station in the town of Spijkenisse, on the southern tip of Rotterdam, on Monday morning. The station is the last stop on the metro line.
The authorities started an investigation into how the train could pass through the barrier at the end of the tracks. The driver was being interviewed as part of the investigation, said Rijnmondveilig’s security official.