Out of all the blessings in disguise of 2020, this Dutch train crash is pretty high on the list. If you’ve ever taken the train for transit, there may be this slight fear in the back of your head. The “what ifs” surface about the train becoming loose or unstable and it crashes. Even though you know it’s safe because there’s no possible way a train could crash in today’s society. However, that was not the case for this Dutch metro train.
The Dutch Train Crash
Luckily, the train didn’t have any passengers onboard when this crash occurred at 12:30 AM local time. Additionally, the only passenger was the operator and he was able to escape the train safely without any serious injuries. The train was seemingly unable to stop as it plowed through the stop blocks at a station just outside Rotterdam. The savior of the trains crash happened to be a plastic whale tail sculpture balances the metro train about 32-feet from the ground. Maarten Struijs, the artist that made the two plastic tail sculptures back in 2002, said he’s amazed at the strength they still have. (1)
“I could never have imagined it that way, but it saved the operator’s life. The damage is an afterthought. I am amazed that it is so strong. When plastic has stood for 20 years, you don’t expect it to hold up a metro train.” (1)
De Akkers station in Spijkenisse is on the outskirts of Rotterdam within the Dutch Province of South Holland. These two whale tail sculptures have endured the elements by the station for years and are even covered in moss. Reinforced by polyester and very little of anything else, the sculpture is surprisingly able to withstand the amount of pressure of the Dutch train crash. However, emergency services say that this is a complex situation. They must be strategic as to how they are going to remove the train from the whale’s tail. With the help from two giant yellow cranes working together and a cable looped around the front of the train, the train was removed. (1)
“Given the complexity, this will take some time,” a spokesman for the Rotterdam-Rijnmond safety region stated. “It will be quite an exercise to get that thing off and get it safe.” (1)
Saved By A Whale’s Tail
Originally, the space where the metro station exists use to be a park. In addition, the local community asked to have the whale tail sculptures made in compensation of the loss in space. With the new title “Saved by a Whale’s Tail“, officials are concerned with how long it will take to salvage the train. (2)
“It is very difficult to place heavy cranes at this location. If the wind is blowing very hard, that’s a risk.” States Carly Gorter, a spokeswoman for the authority told CNN. (3)
Officials are still investigating the cause of the trains crash and are questioning the stopping power of the buffers. Typically, these buffers are put in place in parking stations like this to prevent these kinds of accidents. If the whale tail sculpture had not been there, the metro train would’ve plummeted into the water. Potentially harming the driver on the impact into the pond. (3)
Previous Dutch Train Crashes
This story is a much lighter one compared to the Dutch passenger train that crashed in 2016. This time the accident was a little more severe with two people dead and 10 others severely injured. Locals reported that this passenger train was carrying 15 individuals when it crashed into a crane that was crossing. The photos depict the train halfway off the rail and still halfway on the tracks. Some of the passengers aboard the train were able to escape the passenger carts as they were tilted over. However, some remained on the train in search of others that still needed help. At about 9 AM local time, 75 miles east of Amsterdam, passengers were being taken into emergency services. (4)
Astrid Kempers, a local that lives very near the tracks, claims “I was sitting at my kitchen table working, I heard a bang and looked up. I saw a train sliding off the rails.” (4)
Locals claim that the crane had already waited for one train to pass by. The driver of the crane was reportedly moving very slowly over the level crossing as he seemed to had gotten stuck. However, he was able to eject himself from the cabin before getting hit. He was detained and questioned in connection with a criminal inquiry. (4)
Safety And Trains
Both of these stories about Dutch train crashes proves that we must double check everything. Whether that means making sure that the metro train doesn’t fly into the pond or simply looking both ways before crossing the railroad with a crane. The driver is not the only one’s that are susceptible to these kinds of accidents. It just requires some mindful practice about knowing what to look for and knowing how to act when accidents like this happen.
- “Whale sculpture stops Dutch train crashing into water.” The Guardian. Daniel Boffey. November 2, 2020.
- “Dutch train caught by whale sculpture to be salvaged.” CTV News. The Staff. November 3, 2020.
- “Whale of a ride: Crashed subway train lands on giant sea creature sculpture.” CNN. Jack Guy, Mick Krever and Amy Cassidy. November 2, 2020.
- “Dutch rail driver killed in crane crash at Dalfsen.” BBC. February 23, 2016