Driver escapes injury as Dutch whale tail sculpture catches metro train in ‘fluke’

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This really was a fluke. The driver of a metro train escaped injury when the front carriage rammed through the end of an elevated section of rails and was caught by a sculpture of a whale’s tail near the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.

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The train was left perched upon one of two tail fins known as “flukes” several meters (yards) above the ground.

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It created such a stir locally that authorities urged sightseers to stay away, adding that coronavirus restrictions were in force.

Even so, some 50 people were at the scene late Monday morning as engineers tried to work out how to stabilize and then remove the train amid strengthening winds.

The whale's tail of a sculpture caught the front carriage of a metro train. (AP)
The whale's tail of a sculpture caught the front carriage of a metro train. (AP)

“A team of experts is investigating how we can make it safe and get it down,” Carly Gorter, a spokeswoman for the local security authority, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s tricky,” she added.

The company that operates the metro line said the driver was uninjured and there were no passengers on the train when it crashed through stop barriers at the end of the station in the town of Spijkenisse, on the southern edge of Rotterdam, early Monday morning.

The station is the final stop on the metro line.

The front carriage was left hanging 10 meters (30 feet) above the water, propped up only by the giant silver-colored sculpture -- called, improbably, “Saved by the Whale’s Tail.”

“The metro went off the rails and it landed on a monument called Saved by the Whale’s Tail. So that literally happened,” Carly Gorter of the Rijnmond regional safety authority told AFP.

“Because of the whale’s tail the driver actually was saved, it’s incredible.”

The driver was later held for questioning, the safety authority said. The cause of the crash was still being investigated.

The sculpture was built around 20 years ago in a park underneath the raised metro, its name a deliberate play on the fact that it is a “tail track” at the end of the line.

It features two large whale tails poking out of the water, one of which saved the train.

A team of experts, including the architect of the sculpture, was now on site to work out how to safely remove the train.

“The problem is it’s water around it, so a crane isn’t able to get there,” said Gorter.

“We have a lot of wind at the moment and that’s one of the issues that we’re facing, that’s a risk and worry.”