GES054 - Belgian Pre Metro
Explored as part of a trip around the low countries in late 2010 with GE031 and GE032.
It should be noted i'd never abseiled before. On a trip to Snowdonia in the final year of secondary school, i was the only one in the class not to abseil down some rocks with numerous safety trained adventure staff about. I'm not too good with heights it has to be said. So this part of the trip quietly terrified me. A 25m abseil down a sheer face of the Metro shaft. I had to place my life into the hands of two chaps from the West of England. In order to prepare, i'd spent half an hour dangling from a tree in a nearby park. Learning how to abseil srt style, and then prusik back up. We then had a splendid fish meal in a restaurant in town, and then it was down to business. All geared up under our clothes, we walked to the hole. The chaps set about tying the ropes, while i kept watch. The area was pretty well lit, so it was a bit of a 'mare.
GE031 went first, and all was good. He even got to try out his nice new rope protectors he'd been waving around the car earlier.
And then...it was me! GE032 would go last. I clipped onto the rope, and then climbed over the edge of the rim. by arm firmly held on the rim. I was having trouble letting go the vice like grip on the edge of the rim, and letting go to let the weight go onto the rope. ie putting all my faith in the rope. GE032 kept saying those words I hate to hear "You don't have to do this." After the third time of him saying it, I did a little 'argghhh' scream in my head, and let go. I was now totally reliant on the rope. I then took a deep breath, and slowly let the rope out behind me. After a bit I settled into it,and before I knew it I was at the bottom. I was actually a bit upset for it to have finished. However there was no set of stairs to run up and have another go. Instead I watched GE032 descend down.
Job done, at the bottom of the shaft.
The tunnel heading off.in a Northerly direction.
A fisheye of the hole.
The Metro was to have had trams with wheels, so no need for rails. At the beginning and end of each track was a convenient set of light switches. So you could turn the lights on and off as one progressed.
It wasn't long before we wandered into our first station. As bare bones as you can get, just reinforced concrete and metal rails.
All very odd.
Large halls above the tracks where the station would be.
Further on and a ramp up towards the surface. Sadly this ended in a sealed concrete wall.
180 degrees from the previous shot, and the two tunnels were close together here as they prepared to leave the underground.
Looking up to the surface world through a padlocked grill, we were resigned to walking all the way back to the large shaft.
Side shot of the ramp to the surface.
Walking back, a guide to the station we were at, and the other stations.
Having past by the large shaft, we were on the way to Centraal Station. At this station though, it appeared there was a second level.
And here the tracks split after a station.
Another station, with clips in place on the ceiling presumably for the overhead cables.
Strange area underneath the tracks.
Bit blurrier than normal, but the only shot i have showing the tram path heading up towards the terminus at Centraal Station.
End game. The tracks terminated here. At one time it must have been envisaged that the passengers would walk from Centraal station into the Metro. Centraal station being over the other side of the hoarding.
The tram terminus section.
Obviously the funds were starting to run out here, so they used wood rather than concrete or steel.
Looking back down the tracks, GE032 firing off another of his impressive shots.
The tram path down to the lower level tracks.
Where an escalator would have gone.
branch line. just before Centraal Station, this line branched off. Sadly we didn't have time to go explore it.
A last portrait shot with help from GE031.
Top floor of one of the stations. And with that, it was time to walk out and head home.
Many thanks to GE031 and GE032 for making this happen, and especial thanks for their rope skills, training and knowledge. Sound people.
For a much better report, with far better photos taken with a 99p ebay camera, check GE032's write up here