An underground adventure in the Premetro of Antwerp
A short introduction to the Premetro of Antwerp
It was planned at the beginning of the 1970s to build a fully underground network with a length of 15 km and comprising 22 stations. However, due to financial difficulties, only 18 stations have been built. Seven stations built in the late 1980s are unused. The opening of one station (Zegel) is included in the Pegasus Plan. Other stations along the tunnel will not be opened, but an above ground extension will be constructed. The network is now operated by De Lijn.
The first 1.3 km section opened on 25 May 1975 between Opera, Meir and Groenplaats. Further sections were opened in 1980, 1990, 1996, 2006 and 2015. Diamant station was renovated in 2009.
Detailed research has been made, all stuff is packed and ready to use for a long night of urban explore, two durums were bought on the road from home to destination, to survive the complete eight hours of darkness. Cycling is one thing, but those backpacks are quite heavy. But no problem for men like us.
Arrival goes smoothly and there are not many people around the site that we were going to visit. We left our bikes behind and crossed a bridge over the ring of Antwerp by foot. As silent as possible we walked next to the fence and slipped through a small opening. No one saw us as it was too dark to see into the unlitted parts of the site. Temperatures are way too low, but a warm jacket keeps us moving with no fair of the cold. A white carpet of snow covered the floor and the top of the concrete wall around the huge open pit.
The circular pit was our only way inside the underground metro tunnels, we had to use ropes and climbing gear to get down. A nearby solid fence was our only option to secure the ropes onto. Well, it served us pretty good and all was set to descent into much more darkness.
23 metres down, secured by a climbing rope and a second one for safety measures.
I have to admit, the view was pretty awesome.
Once my foot touched the concrete floor, I was delighted and I joined my friend who went down first and he also filmed me while I descended. We then left the hanging ropes behind and we set foot towards the tunnel.
There was a switch to turn on the lights! And voila, we had light and we stuck our headlights away.
A huge and long tunnel awaited us at last, with no rail tracks or anything. Just a concrete floor and a beautiful constructed wall foundation build in the 70’s.
Antwerp has many interesting things to offer sometimes and this spectacular visit to the underground levels of Antwerp was as good as it sounds. I bought five tickets for us all and I couldn’t wait for that day to come, so excited I was!
The day came, we arrived and joined the group.
Everyone was really excited about the trip through a few kilometres of finished metro tunnel, which were going to open the next day.
So, it was my last chance to take an admiring look at this long existing tunnel system.
There were lots of groups and the organisers had their hands full with keeping the groups together, it was one group after the other that went through the tunnel. As there was only one of two tunnels open to the public it wasn’t such a long distance after all and you could sometimes hear the voices from people behind your back. But they didn’t came in sight as we had to move on pretty quickly.
The walkway was in between two pairs of rail and it was decorated with Christmas lights to see where you could put your feet. It makes it a lot easier for everyone and it added a nice lighting effect to my video and pictures.
The Premetro of Antwerp
⇒ Part of premetro tramway tunnel in Antwerp, a few days before its official opening
⇒ Premetro is een vorm van openbaar vervoer waarbij trams geheel of gedeeltelijk ondergronds door tunnels rijden. In België vind je premetro’s in Antwerpen, Brussel en Charleroi.
© Ghost Town, by Adam Lambert
© Produced and published by Alan Cuypers on June 4, 2015
» Written by Alan who goes under the name of twin-rhino | Published on April 19, 2015