Nights Around Concrete
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Nights Around Concrete

Line 9 in catalan sounds like “line new”, nine is “nou”, “nou” also means new. But this line still unfinished.

It’s quite boring for me to write about Line 9 again. Too much concrete. “We’ve been quiet but busy”, busy failing a lot. Lots of nights without even getting out our cameras from our backpacks, not reaching our destinations, bloody heads, smashed knees and rivers of sweat between speeding trains. All that pain didn’t even end up with an epic night. Like ants in summertime we’ve been trying and trying but it became an unexpected dry season of achievements that ended in a fruitless search of rare artefacts. But forget about the more recent trials and tribulations, this story is older, from many months ago and I can say that all we’ve been seen was the fruit of unplanned nights. I don’t believe at all in luck, but I have my amulet. Goes around with me always, even now expired, goes with me in a new life, mutilated. Just in case I lost the slice, more pieces of the amulet awaits at home for any future adventures. And no, I don’t believe in luck. Stubbornness, determination and curiosity could be the answer to you. So we opened the archive to show you yet another TBM quest – yes, you read it right. Sounds right for me to write again about metro beasts, or at least the search for them. This story runs among construction sites and concrete tunnels. On this occasion we went in search of the only remaining active TBM in the city.

First relaxed contact

The first time that we entered L9 was some time ago with a rare group of greasy and international rats. The usual suspects that are always preaching about his ‘lord and saviour – track’. Always the same procedure: Where to go? I know a hole… Once in the hole I’ve been asked: “what happens if we get caught inside?”. I don’t know, never been caught. So without thinking about it we went inside. On that occasion after climbing down a scaffolding we found a worker nearby and we decided lo leave. The security guard didn’t hear a thing.

Some months after that first intrusion we found another hole. It was an enormous station that was under construction, the shaft was massive, I counted at least space for six lifts. Of course we didn’t use the elevator this time, instead we walked down through a shady staircase. After the work shift has ended nobody uses that staircase to exit, hence the elevator, so the stairs were the perfect cover for us.  Also the elevator was sitting down at the bottom of the shaft, meaning that it was likely someone was working down there. They were. When we got to the middle of the stairs we heard some saws and working tools in the tunnels, which was strange considering it was a random day in the middle of the week at around one or two am. The works were in a rush to be finished as soon as they could so there were people working in night shifts every day until the completion date. Another night we entered and similarly left quickly because the workers were again too close for comfort. But as always it was worth the visit, just to learn the situation. As of writing this tunnel is ready to go. Everything is finished and all the entrances are sealed.

The big hall of the station and the street lights still illuminating some how the place.

We didn’t have any map, entering here was totally unplanned, and finding a way to the tunnels was quite difficult. We didn’t want to face any worker.

Going to work finding metro is an obvious thing to do if you’re a tunnel rat. Everyday someone is bombing about an awesome and brand new line under construction. It’s in the press, on the TV, and all the keyboard warriors are writing about the endless works of the most modern and innovative metro line in Europe. In an undesirable political campaign all this shit is worst. The rodent community will never wait until the glorious opening, whenever that happens. All the while we’ve been there like silent witnesses of this never ending story so many times. So many nights wandering the streets, lurking in construction sites. Even if you are an average, simple citizen with only a small interest it is really easy to spot these kinds of works.

The top of the shaft, here start the stairs. We spend here maybe an hour trying to sharp our ears before going down.

Unexpectedly, when you’re just going to buy some bread in the bakery, or just going out the main court buildings here and your daily mission is done, you’re going to light that cigarette in a moment of satisfaction, and then you start to cough a lot: What the fuck is that fence? HOLY shit!! Straight to the underground. Without locks? Without fences that are high enough? Jeez, it can’t be as easy as that. But yes. It was.

I think that it is a matter of obviousness. Who would expect that somebody wants to go down there? Just in front of at least four 360 cameras of the City of Justice? Cameras that are monitored by more than three security guards at a time in an area constantly patrolled by cops and guards. I think if you’re not in the market to blow up their building that they don’t really care. Just going inside the shitty entrance to the works you would be fine. Just to take a look inside and disappear. As every city rat must know, this kind of exploration must be done immediately after discovering the entrance. Next week it could all be closed, even with an impenetrable concrete wall. That’s the game… and I swear that we loved that game. Many people ask for tips but the fact is that entrance we used to get in, it’s gone. It’s time now to move forward to the next hole.

Second stressful contact

As easy as we found it, more visits were made. We walked further in the search of the TBM. Without proper research it was just a peaceful walk between concrete walls. Some sort of quiet spaceship corridors or at least that’s how it felt, but we were wrong. It was not peaceful at all. We entered at the workers dinners time (we knew this because the elevator was now up at the top of the shaft) and nobody noticed (we already knew about nightshifts in the works), so when we’d made our descent we didn’t find anybody anywhere, but when we’d walked for an hour or so we started to hear drilling noises again in the distance. Fuck, getting back the same way was going to be hard.

It turned into an anxious race against time and workers, lucky for us the tunnels were double decked. The game was so funny: workers down or up?? Hurry we must decide before being spotted! We chose wisely, hearing bulldozers moving and a lot of people in the lower deck, it was ridiculous. Eventually we found a big extraction shaft, closed now with tonnes of concrete but with a rare link tunnel in it to some other part of the line. Without checking the place out properly we activated an alarm and it all fucked up so fast that we even didn’t know what was happening. Suddenly a voice started to say something incomprehensible through a loudspeaker overhead. What the fuck is he saying?? Hurry! Order him a pizza! We left. It was the time for a smoke bomb and to hurry the fuck up.

Hiding for a while whenever we could, we even had time for some laughs and to start thinking in the repentance. “Today is the day”, I was saying to myself, “someday it will happen”. But nope. Fuck… that day was really close, we choose the right deck and still no visual contact was made. We passed through over the top of the working bulldozers, literally. But no footsteps were heard. The sound of those machines was loud. Just before the rush we could enjoy enough concrete peace for years. And lots of photographs and video. One last attempt in to this tunnel was made with the railgang international, but differently this time it was an extremely peaceful intrusion. No workers, no hurry. We walked for an hour in a new and unexplored direction until paranoia made us to return to surface. Just as we were jumping the brick wall of the site a police car passed by. Next time gentleman, we’ve been accurate, sorry.

A ready TBM 

As always we don’t want to show you counter information or complaints to do with politics of any kind. As everybody should know this new TBM is stopped but is ready to go, with tonnes of rocks and sand in front of his cutting face. Just less than 4 kilometers are left to drill to complete the line. Maybe when this flaming machine moves and ends the line, Iseb (our favorite rusty machine) will be slaughtered and melted down. Don’t expect metal kisses for now. Maybe even as you read this the beast is already moving. Have a seat.

Another charming afternoon wandering the city we decided randomly to go to a huge metro works just at the end of the city zone. The place was massive. Some sleepy guards, some cameras that were turned off, and immediately we found a way in. That whole area is really weird at night, full of whores hanging around in the middle of nowhere. Showing at the minimum her breasts and her dick at once, pimp hustlaz patrolling the bushes and nasty customers stopping their cars, nothing more. We walked the place until we found a hole in a fence without any cameras to spot us and we managed to find a way in to the tunnels through a hole in a wall meant for a conveyor belt. It was hard and tight but we did it, always harmless.

Shot made by Simon D. He is fucking great at capturing the action.

All the place was well lit and clean, much more lit than we were expecting and we were convinced we’d find workers all the time, but it ended up being pretty quiet. The tunnel we walked was close to being finished, half divided into a double decker tunnel just in its first half. After that funny section we were again in the middle of a massive tunnel totally unprotected and without any real places to hide. Well rats, it’s fucking Sunday. Nobody is going to be working there today. Keep going. That day we were a group of 6 rats and as soon as we set off walking the group started to divide up, as often happens. I was so slow because I was taking photos and shit. An anxious feeling woke up in me. Catch everything you can, who knows if we could go inside again. What prophetic thoughts they were.

After we had walked for 20 minutes – or was it an hour? – we found a fence stopping our path. I can’t imagine what was the purpose of that weak fence. Maybe it was to stop unauthorized workers from passing through the main machine? Perhaps. Regardless, we hopped that fence like we were doing 100 m hurdles on a track. As always happens with boring machines, what was in the other side crushed our memories forever.

This time no ropes were needed, no previous plans, no internet research. Just us and our sharp metro predator instinct, bare feet and poisonous claws. Our unexpected walk ended in front of a giant machine. Something that looks like a tunnel parasite. A sort of transformer with wheels. Awesome! Fortunately for us, nobody was home that night and with a smile on our faces we headed to the cutting head. On this boring machine you could read “herrenknecht” on it, the name of the TBM company. The metal structure was still white, and all the generators were rumbling. Yes, it’s under maintenance and soon will be working hard once again. No news story here.

We tried to find a way into the head but obviously this time it was not possible. We remembered how Iseb was and we found the pressure chamber in the same place and this time it was left open. This TBM looks much better than the other one. I have to study about them but I will say that this one is smaller than Iseb, with a lot of rare devices on it. Completely filled with fluorescent lights and a constant background hum that indicated to all that at any moment it could start to dig again. I went upstairs and something like an alarm was turned on, and while I descended the stairs it stopped. Anyway we went in a hurry to photo the place and we started our exit.

One more attempt was done after this, but we all ended up being caught by a friendly security guard. At first he wanted to see our bags but this kind of guard doesn’t have this power in Spain, and certainly not when they’re alone in front of six lads. Quickly he realized that we weren’t the usual vandals lurking. “What the fuck are you guys?” – “Just infrastructure tourists, don’t mind us”. He wasn’t even from the underground works that we wanted to see. He was just having a cigarette in front his building and he saw some shadows near a fence. Turned out to be a funny guy with a dark past of drugs and robbery.

Now it seems that the desire to see abandoned metro stations is a trend. Good. At least someone somehow is going to earn a few euros. Go to Correos. Post some pics in your daily forum and become a hero for one day. Perseverance is the big key of this city if you know what I mean. Yeah, you’re right, easy to go there following mermaids songs and go inside totally unaware of the entry methods and being blind to the casual underground happenings of the workers, unscheduled trains and the silent torch guys patrolling. Anyway, maybe you will have an extra fuck at the end of the week because you have become a black ninja in your Facebook page. But you know, and we know that all that shit isn’t easy as that. Go explore.

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