AT Osborne is proud of its contribution to this new metro line. From 22 July 2018, the North/South line will connect the north of Amsterdam with Zuid railway station by way of the city centre. Although the citizens of Amsterdam had to be patient for fifteen years, the results are definitely worth the wait. This metro line doesn’t just make the city much more accessible; it also functions as a new museum for its passengers with exhibits of Amsterdam’s history and culture. Vijzelgracht station, for example, features a portrait of Ramses Shaffy, while there are 10,000 archaeological finds on display at Rokin station.
AT Osborne became involved in this high-profile project back in 1997 by providing organisational advice. Starting in 2005, various colleagues filled a range of roles as part of the project’s organisational team. AT Osborne’s involvement became closer still in 2008, when our then-colleague Peter Dijk was appointed as the project director. This proved to be a turbulent period, as homes on the Vijzelgracht began sinking for the second time only days after his appointment. This resulted in the work being called to a halt, the resignation of Councillor Herrema and the establishment of the Veerman Committee. A strategic reorientation followed and the project’s scope was expanded from infrastructure construction to delivery of an effective public transport system.
A suitable strategy
The connection with the citizens of Amsterdam needed to be made stronger. This required a cultural change within the project and the organisational team to focus explicitly on improving the project’s reputation. Implementing these changes was where the complexity lay. Old behavioural patterns had to be broken. This also required closer collaboration with the contractors, especially in the city centre where colleagues Bastiaan Sommeling, Joost Beljon and Pelle de Wit, led by colleague Gerard Scheffrahn, started working on the building shells for the De Pijp, Vijzelgracht and Rokin stations.
Looking for contradictions
AT Osborne has been involved in the organisational development of the North/South metro line since 2007 – initially for the restructuring from Project Management Office to Project Organisation in 2007. In addition, they set up and staffed the Quality & Organisation and Project Management departments. Colleagues Pau Lian Staal-Ong, Eddy Westerveld and Frank Jacobsen worked to develop and implement a quality assurance system for the project organisation. This set out definitive ways of working within the organisation. The Q&O department also carried out an audit to identify potential ways to optimise the organisation. After all, one of the lessons learned was to look for contradictions.
Civil engineering highlights
The tumult surrounding the project quietened down again after a while. The tunnel was drilled under Amsterdam’s city centre without encountering any major issues. Tunnel sections were lowered under the IJ waterfront and Amsterdam Central Station in impressive fashion. Confidence in the project organisation grew and the estimates remained within the revised budget.
Finishing work and commissioning
The final stage of the construction work began in 2011. Having learned from the building shell phase, seven D&C/DCM contracts were drawn up and awarded between 2011 and 2014. This stage came with its own challenges. Creating an integrated functional system proved to be a complex assignment, one that colleagues Timon Bruggema, Eddy Westerveld, Pelle de Wit, Brent Elemans, Anne Beekers, Marieke Hietbrink, Jack Rouwendaal, Gert-Jan Trouwborst, Paul Brinkman, Eelco Sneep and Gerard Scheffrahn all tackled head on. Their work varied from artist supervision, contract management and system integration consulting to implementation management.
“The stages of this project varied greatly when it came to challenges.”
Proud of our contribution
“The stages of this project varied greatly when it came to challenges,” states Gerard Scheffrahn, former Contract Manager Deep Stations, Director of Execution and Program Manager Implementation. “During the building shell phase, the emphasis was on managing the risks associated with construction work reaching depths of up to 30 metres under Amsterdam’s city centre, and on gaining the trust of the residents. Building the superstructure involved four contractors who had to work together in close collaboration. For the implementation phase, we developed an approach based on joint learning. Shared bonuses helped keep us aligned even during difficult periods. The approach worked admirably well. After this stage, I was asked to lead the final implementation stage for GVB, the future operator, in the middle of 2017. That required me to look at my own work with fresh eyes. It was very educational,” says Scheffrahn.
Pelle de Wit, Manager Commissioning, is also satisfied: “The Tunnel Coordination Centre (TCC) was at the core of the joint approach we devised together with the contractors. The TCC coordinated operations, monitored safety and took care of management and maintenance. The people working there increased from a handful to eighty in the end, originating from all organisations that were involved. Being allowed to lead this organisation was a privilege.”
Release Manager Jack Rouwendaal: “As the Release Manager I concentrated on achieving specific milestones. My team was made up of members from both the client and the contractors’ side. What I liked about my work was the chance to employ both my conceptual skills and my more practical nature.”
Facts and figures
The opening of the North/South line means that passengers can now travel from the north of Amsterdam (Noord) to Zuid train station in the south in just 16 minutes. And they don’t have to wait long: a new train departs every six minutes. The average speed is 37 kilometres an hour, including stops and passengers getting on and off. The maximum speed over this route is 80 kilometres an hour. By way of comparison, trams in Amsterdam maintain an average speed of 12 km/h through the city centre.
The metro trains and stations
These metro trains are the tallest in the world (230 centimetres high) and 116 metres in length. They are the first metro trains in Europe to feature full LED lighting. There is space for approximately 960 passengers. Each side has 24 high double doors (208 cm). No metro or other train in the Netherlands has this many doors.
All the new North/South line stations feature monumental works of art. The guiding principle was art that inspires, provokes a reaction and is appealing to the citizens of Amsterdam.
- In total, 1,508,920 tonnes of cement (one and a half billion kilos) went into the North/South metro line, equivalent to the weight of 207 Eiffel Towers or 29 Titanics
- A total of 119,626,655 kilos of steel were used (16 Eiffel Towers or 2 Titanics)
- There are 92 escalators, 4 moving walkways and 27 lifts
- 4 tunnels were sunk: three into the IJ at 141 metres in length each and one under Amsterdam Central Station measuring 136 metres
- The tunnel under Amsterdam Central Station is the first tunnel worldwide to be sunk under a building
- The deepest point of the drilled tunnel is located under the Muntbrug at almost 34 metres in depth
- The deepest construction work was the drilling of the new piles under Amsterdam Central Station at 61 metres below NAP (Normal Amsterdam Level)