The train “shot through” on approach to De Akkers station around 12.30 p.m. local time, said RET, the transport company in the city of Rotterdam, in a statement on Monday.
“To our relief, the subway operator got out of the vehicle unharmed. Under the circumstances, he is fine. There were no passengers present,” said the company.
An investigation is ongoing and RET is discussing how best to save the train, the company said.
The train burst through the buffers at the station, which is at the southernmost end of the Rotterdam metro system, and would have fallen more than 30 feet to the ground if it hadn’t landed on one of two whale tails that architect Maarten Struijs almost did 20 had installed years earlier.
“I was surprised, I didn’t expect that. Buffers are always strong enough,” Struijs told CNN. “So I look forward to the results of the investigation into this crash.”
He explained that trains drop passengers off at the station before proceeding to a parking lot where the incident occurred.
The tracks were built on a viaduct in an existing park, and locals were demanding the whale tails be installed to compensate for the loss of space in the park, Struijs said.
“I’ll make sure I get some photos. Because it’s at its best now and it’ll look worse if you back it up,” he told Dutch national broadcaster NOS.
“I could never have imagined it.”
Struijs said he thought the plastic tail was damaged in the accident, “but it doesn’t appear to be.”
Ruud Natrop, communications advisor for the Rotterdam-Rijnmond regional security agency, told CNN that the train was poised 10 meters above the ground in the park by a pond.
“It is very difficult to place heavy cranes in this place,” said Natrop, who added that security services are monitoring the situation but no one knows how long a recovery operation will take.
Carly Gorter, a spokeswoman for the agency, told CNN that the first step is to stabilize the train so it doesn’t fall from its new spot on the artwork called Saved by the Whale’s Tail.
“Yes, it’s dangerous. It’s stable at the moment, that’s good, but it’s a risk,” said Gorter. “If the wind is very strong, it’s a risk.”