The most critical phase of the work got underway on Saturday at around noon. As a group of interested members of the public stood watching, two giant concrete slabs were moved into their final position in unison. ‘Yes! It’s definitely moving!’ shouted the spectators from the station platform. ‘You’re so lucky to see this!’ said expert Marianne van Lochem, who was explaining to them what was happening. At around 1 p.m. the sound of applause filled the construction site. The giant concrete slabs were finally in place – mission accomplished.
Watch the video
Sliding into place
The first work had begun in the evening of Thursday 19 August. Platform 4 and the adjacent metro platform were closed to all rail traffic and the tracks were removed along with part of the platform. After that, approximately 2,000 cubic metres of sand, which the tracks normally rest on, was removed by truck.
This exposed the foundations that were laid during the Easter weekend earlier in 2021. Now there was some space to install four supporting beams for the concrete slabs to slide over – one at each end of the 70-metre-long concrete sections and two more in between. These were used to support the enormous roof sections as they were pushed approximately 15 metres towards platform 4 and their final position.
By Saturday morning, everything was ready for the final push. The main challenge was the very limited space on the site. The concrete sections were made between the metro tracks, which hardly left any space to give them the first push. ‘Mini-grippers’ were installed to move the roof sections the first few centimetres. Almost imperceptibly, the long concrete sections inched their way forwards.
Now that there was a bit more space to work in, the ‘big guns’ could be deployed. Progress was slow for the first three metres, but then suddenly the pace quickened. Within about an hour, the roof sections had reached their final position up against the platform, underneath train track 4 and metro track 1. There, the whole lot was suspended a few centimetres above the foundations so that the supporting beams could be removed. Finally, everything was moved down slightly and over 2 million kilos of concrete slotted exactly into place, just as it had been designed to.
Rebuilding the tracks
The rebuilding work began on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday 22 August, the ballast and railway and metro tracks were placed back on top of the new roof sections, and the power supply was reconnected. Work also began on rebuilding the station platform. There were a few delays due to the very wet weather. But some extra teams were brought in and luckily the lost time was made up. By early Monday morning, the work was complete and the trains and metros could run normally again.
The Brittenpassage will be the second pedestrian passageway underneath the new Amsterdam Zuid station, with the trains and metros running over the top of it. It should be completed by 2027 at the latest. The new passageway will do more than just provide access to the station platforms – it will also accommodate shops and a bicycle parking facility. So there’s still a long way to go. Three of its roof sections have now been put in place. There are four more to go.