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Coaster retirement plans


Inferno
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With the recent news of Nemesis being re-tracked after almost 30 years of service, it's got me thinking about the fate of Thorpe Park's ageing coasters.

 

If we take Nemesis' life-span as a guide, and apply it to Thorpe's coasters, it means they might need major work doing sooner rather than later.

  • Colossus - 8 years from now
  • Nemesis Inferno - 9 years from now
  • Stealth - 12 years from now
  • Saw - 15 years from now (supposedly, although I think it'll need doing far sooner)

 

I'd imagine that Colossus and Saw might need retiring/re-tracking earlier than Nemesis.

 

The reason I bring this up is that this could leave Thorpe in a bit of a pickle..

They had an unusual few years where they invested heavily in new coasters and rides almost back to back, which was great at the time, but it does mean they are all ageing together.

 

Could this mean that Thorpe will soon enter a difficult period where some of their major rides need to be either removed or overhauled? And what would this mean financially, could it affect investment in new attractions again?

 

I might be completely wrong to assume this, but thought it was worth a discussion!

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The Nemesis retrack is a weird one, as we're in slightly uncharted territory with regards to the lifespan of B&Ms. And, of course, we don't really have much to go on for what the life span of more modern steel coasters are.

 

I can't be the only one thinking that 30 years is somewhat on the short side as a lifespan for a coaster, especially one from a top tier manufacturer? I don't know, maybe I'm being overly optimistic?

 

I wonder if the Nemesis situation is made worse by the location and the fact it was still one of B&Ms first coasters. Could accelerate potential issues!

 

 

To get more to the point of the topic though...yes, Thorpe could well be looking down a potential difficult barrel. If we do go for the 30 year mark for coasters, it leaves a lot of potential expensive work to happen in a short period of time. But on top of that, their support rides are also a cause for concern. Rides like Samurai and Vortex are becoming more unreliable, and even some of the smaller rides like Depth Charge and Teacups will see a time when a like-for-like replacement must surely end up being cheaper than repairs? Thorpe is a potential ticking time bomb for maintenance and replacements!

 

I'd expect Colossus would be the first major ride to need major work. Not just the age, but the location and rumours of sinking supports (and the numerous works it has had to supports and filling in the lake around the ride). Whether that results in a retrack for the ride that 'put Thorpe on the map', or a replacement is hard to say. Colossus is clearly still popular. But with Exodus around the corner, Smiler holding the inversion record and the wider audience moving away from a 'more inversions = better' logic, is Colossus a ride of the past? Could the space be put to better use for a newer ride? 

 

No wrong answer there of course. I honestly would not be surprised either way if they retrack it or dump it and replacement. But I do think the time is close for it to receive major work!

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Personally, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see Colossus go before the end of the 2020s, and I'll be stunned if it's not the first of the big thrill coasters to go. It's not an especially popular ride (among enthusiasts, at very least, and none of my family especially like it), it's lost its original USP even within the UK, it takes up a not insignificant amount of land within a park that will soon be tight on space for new rides, and correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't subsidence causing issues with the ride's footers?

 

However, I would counter that by saying that I don't think coasters necessarily have a set lifespan. For every ride getting removed at 30 years old, there's a similarly specced ride still hanging in there for decades afterwards, and I don't think that a ride hitting a certain age is necessarily an indicator that "[x ride] is due for removal or retracking". I think it's more nuanced than that, personally.

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49 minutes ago, Marley said:

There is also the new coaster at flamingo land that is almost a carbon copy of Colossus so whether that is a factor for Thorpe to retrack/remove Colossus is not known.

Thoughts?

 

It'll certainly be something Thorpe keep an eye on.

 

Of course, Thorpe and Flamingo are in different parts of the country and have different audiences. I think that if the public decide to compare them, more people will see Flamingo's coaster as being 'a copy of Thorpe's' ore than anything else. All in I don't think it will have much of an effect on what Thorpe do with Colossus, but it would be foolish of Thorpe to ignore it in case it does have any effect!

 

On the other, one has to wonder if Flamingo will ever open their 10 inverter the way it's going...

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It's interesting isn't it.

There can't be too many parks in the world who will have the dilemma of most of their rides becoming 'old' around the same time.

 

I hadn't even thought to mention the ageing flat rides. Good point.

 

I'd be very interested to find out how much it would cost to re-track a coaster vs demolish and build something new, and I suppose in reality this is what decides it.

If it's 20% more expensive to get rid and build new, surely there isn't a lot of point in re-building any of Thorpe's coasters when their time comes, when they can build and market something totally new?

 

As for Colossus - yeah, it was Thorpe's first biggie, and it's certainly still a good ride, especially if they re-tracked and had new trains to solve the horrible issues in the station.. But is that money well spent when they could build something new? I'm not so sure.

 

To put it in to perspective, picture the hoards of 17 / 18 / 19 year olds driving to the park this year - Colossus was open and running before they were born..

It could now be seen by a lot of Thorpe's audience as 'pretty old' - scary but true!

 

It also doesn't seem to have the wow factor / legendary status that Nemesis does, which is also a factor I suppose.

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From an engineering perspective it is likely to be mandated that the structure survives 25 years. Where the pieces of track are deemed replaceable. Non replaceable parts will be designed for atleast 50.

 

Fatigue issues in steel start occuring at 2x10^6 load cycles which rollercoasters will start hitting around 25-30 years old. So if we assume 240 operating days a year at 8 hours. In that time lets assume perfect capacity for nemesis of 37.5 dispatches an hour. It would result in a lifespan of 27.7 years. 

 

Time to hit 2,000,000 cycles.

Colossus - 24y

Nemesis Inferno -29y

Stealth - 19y

Saw - 21y*

 

You can design for more cycles. The eurocodes permit allowances up to 5x10^6 but it requires the stresses in the steel to be low. Saw can probably get away with that hence it not being 8 years. I cant be bothered to work out allowable cycle ranges so for saw I assumed the maximum and the other coasters the minimum. 

 

Basically Thorpe park would have an expensive few years coming up if you couldn't extend lifespan in other ways. It would just come down to is it worth extending. Unfortunately for Colossus I think the answer is no. 

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