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Saturday, 19 September 2009

Be Nice When It’s Finished

Back in the 1960s, someone had a brilliant idea: in the future, Amsterdam would have a network of Metro lines, and the tram network would eventually become superfluous (this came after the equally brilliant idea that buses would do instead). And so arrived the first Metro routes, causing such disruption and consuming much money – all for a short underground section from the south side into the city centre. The Metro idea was quietly put to one side, except for the Ringlijn, for which the new construction was above ground.

But some ideas never stay dead for long, and so the Noord-Zuid Metrolijn has arrived, but only in the form of a building site. One good part of the plan is that it brings rapid transit to the north bank of the IJ: the bad part is that the work is proving “difficult”, even in a country familiar with tunnelling through wet ground. Some tram routes are being diverted around the building sites, while some building sites are having to work round tram routes.

And the fallout from the project can be seen at the south end of Vijzelstraat: houses on the west side suffering from the workings beneath, cracked and needing support, rather as one might recall the results of mining subsidence in the UK many years ago. And now the money is running out.

What to do? Either someone has to pay to get it finished, or if it’s to be called off, then someone else has to pay to fill it all in. In Amsterdam, push has most certainly come to shove.

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