At the entrance to the site on Parnassusweg we meet Bas van Sinten, planning engineer for construction consortium Zuidplus. It’s relatively pleasant here, standing in the sunshine between the tracks on the Zuidasdok site. But you’re immediately reminded how narrow – and long – the work site is, as the construction workers attempt to manoeuvre around each other at a distance of 1.5 metres. They are not only working during the day, but are also making progress at night. In the week of 8 March 2021, they are putting sheet piling in place between midnight and 05.00 in the morning. ‘We’ll be positioning it across the track in the places where the stairs from the new passenger tunnel, the Brittenpassage, meet the platform’, explains Van Sinten. When all of the sections of the passageway roof are in place (seven in total), we will begin construction work on the new passageway underneath. ‘At that point, the sheet piling will serve to hold back the soil when we’re building the passageway.’
Six sections of sheet piling
In total, we are installing six sections of sheet piling, each 9 metres long and 1.4 metres wide. ‘Next to the railway platform where tracks 3 and 4 are, we’ve removed part of the temporary platform and created some grooves. We will insert the sheet piling into these through the dyke where the station is located, reaching roughly the same depth as street level’, says Van Sinten. He points towards the location, where trains are now racing past on a regular basis. ‘That’s why we’re working at night: it’s safer, passengers and construction workers don’t get in each other’s way, and public transport can run its normal services during the day.’ Vibration methods will be used to insert the sheet piling. ‘Press-in piling was not possible for the sheet piling, because there’s not enough space here for the machines that can do the job quickly.’
The builders are also continuing to work hard during the day in order to complete the job at Easter. We will then be building the abutments – the foundations – for the two new roof sections. Van Sinten: ‘We’re starting at 20.00 on Thursday, 1 April and we need to have finished by 05.00 on the dot on 6 April. We’ll be making the abutments by removing railway platform 2 and a railway and metro track over a four-day period and digging open the foundation piles inserted previously. We will then lower the reinforcement for the abutments over this and pour in the concrete. The two roof sections will then be placed on these newly-installed foundations in August.’ This kind of robust structure is necessary because it will not only need to bear the weight of the roof sections, but also the new, widened platform, the platform roof structure, and the railway and metro trains. The first of the seven roof sections is already in position, the second is ready to be inserted and is currently serving as a work site.
Moving the track
Whereas most people are now looking forward to Easter because of the additional days off, the team here has an extra-long weekend of work in prospect. ‘It’s not only the abutments that we need to work on. In the same Easter weekend, we’ll also be moving railway track 4 and the overhead wires into the right position to enable us to widen the platform’, explains Van Sinten. Public transport passengers will have only limited railway and metro services during this extra-long weekend of work. Normal railway and metro services will resume on the morning of Tuesday, 6 April. Does Van Sinten also have plans for after Easter? ‘Definitely, immediately after Easter, we begin construction on the third roof section. Between 20 and 23 August, we will insert the two roof sections into position on top of the abutments underneath railway track 4 and metro track 1. That’s another weekend to look forward to, but our main focus is currently on the big job at Easter.’ Interested in viewing the work? You can follow it live on our webcam.