HSL Tunnel - Discovery 2003
I discovered the HSL tunnel somewhere in the summer of 2003. It's so long ago I've forgotten the month. I saw the building site from the train, on my daily commute, and I simply had to see it up close.

This report is the first in a series of five expeditions to the HSL. You can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

The obvious entrance was near the Blijdorp Zoo. One section of perimeter had no fence, so I could walk right in. Not even a "no entry" sign. Easy! The lights were on already at 20:00. Light that shine during daytime have an uncanny feeling around them. I'm planning to write about that in an "Urban Spooklights" page.
Unfortunately what looked like a very promising tunnel ended much too soon. But the endig was nicely unfinished, giving me a lot to look at. I like that modern-art "earthworks" look. This would fit in a "land art" exhibition.
And I saw the most beautiful dried-up mud that I've ever encountered. You could win a photography contest with this stuff.
More minimalist art. This time someone had tried to copy a Donald Judd of a Frank Stella.
The tunnel ended in a huge deep swimming pool. I was 4 meters below the water table. The only thing that protected me from drowning was a flimsy wall of 3 cm thick steel fortification. Pumps were busy all around, creating industry-grade fountains. Not those thin water sprays from your park-fountains, but waterspouts for "real men".
Water seemed to be the greatest danger. There were a lot of "Mortal Danger - Quicksand" notices all around.

It was getting dark quickly and I had exhausted the easy risk-free opportunities. A few days later I returned with Ben and Angelo.

The other obvious entrance was near Zestienhoven airport. The high-speed rail-line cuts through an unused city park here. In the future it will connect Brussels with Amsterdam.

Because it's such a critical piece of infrastructure it's guarded permanently by two guys in a hot air balloon.

Fortunately someone had left the fence open by 50 cm, so we could enter with "plausible deniability." The "do not enter" signs were 4 meters to our right, so we could claim that we hadn't seen them. The underground looked very inviting. We quickly descended the noisy steel stairs and I was relieved when we were out of sight. Entry is always the most risky moment.
After descending the stairs we ended up in the tunnel. At the end was some huge construction.
It had a claustrophobic walkway in the middle. And after walking through the construction you entered a smooth square tunnel.
Soon after this I chickened out - especially after Ben and Angelo started opening containers with tools and machinery and inspecting the contents. To me it felt too much like "braking and entering". Also I was a bit worried about my car. Meanwhile Ben and Angelo walked the whole tunnel to it's logical conclusion.
Then we took the car in the direction of Bergschenhoek to see more of the HSL. But here construction hadn't progressed much. The viaducts were in place, but the rest of the track was virgin bare earth.
We finished our exploration when there were no viaducts anymore. Meanwhile the guards in the hot air balloon had followed us closely. See how high the security is around this site!
Urban Adventure Home Petr Kazil

May 2005