The Train Tunnel

The Willemstunnel (train tunnel) runs under the river the "Maas", parallel with the Willemsbrug. It has replaced the old steel rail-bridge and has turned the "Hef" lift-bridge into an industrial monument that is not used anymore.

When the tunnel was finished the citizens of Rotterdam could take a walk through the tunnel on one specific day. At that time I didn't practice urban adventure yet. If someone has pictures of this occasion I'll post them here.

The outside

You are standing on the railway station "Zuid". You are looking north towards the South entrance of the tunnel.


Entry from Blaak station seems easy. Just take the stairs down to the second floor underground.

But security is high and camera's are everywhere. Intercity trains speed by every 5 minutes. I heard a rumour that a man was arrested for walking in the tunnel and that he was charged with the costs of the train delays and the security personnel. But that could be an urban legend.

NEW: It's not an urban legend. Lately a colleague of mine complained that his train unexpectedly crawled it's way through the tunnel.Then a message came over the intercom - "We are sorry for the delay, but some people have been spotted inside the tunnel and we are not allowed to go faster than 5km/h."

In any case people must have been inside because inside the tunnel you can see traces of cleaned-up graffiti. Oh, how I would like to meet these people and interview them ...

The inside

This is the view from "Blaak" station, the station with the beautiful steel arch on top (see: "buildering projects"). Here you are looking from the furthest legal viewpoint in the direction of Central Station. The tunnel is 740 m long in this direction. It looks well lit but that is fake. I used a long exposure time: 4 seconds. In fact it is quite dark.

Taking pictures

This is the view in the opposite direction. You are looking in the direction of the river; probably a part of the visible route already passes under the river. The tunnel is 1900m long in this direction. The number "13" means that maximum speed here is 130km / hour.

This section looks even brighter because I used 8 seconds exposure time. It's an old trick for which you don't need a tripod. Put the camera on a stable spot. Set in on the timer. Push the shutter-button and step back to avoid touching the camera during the exposure. The rest is done by the camera.

This is a detail of the previous picture. It shows how far you can look into the tunnel.

There are stairs going up in the well lit section on the right. I don't know where they go, perhaps an emergencty exit. It's not under the river yet.

Caught - on camera

You could try to take a quick look inside, but you will be spotted by the security camera's almost immediately. So reaching the stairway is out of the question.

The security guards will ring one of the yellow telephones (on the pillar at the left) to show that you've been noticed. Or maybe to check whether you're a railway employee. If you don't have the proper key for the telephone box you must be a trespasser.

Go to: List of underground places, Home

2000 Petr Kazil - 20 January 2000