Stations in the Sky

Wednesday, May 14, 2003 10:10 PM
Why is it that (most) loading stations end up being built so high above ground level? On a multi-million dollar attraction would it add that much to the cost to dig a “basement” and bring the trains down to ground level rather than making the customer climb up to board them?

I’m not asking this because I’m too old (yet) or lazy to climb the stairs but because I feel this would have some advantages such as:
o Added protection for the mechanicals in the station (brakes, gates, etc.) especially during the winter off-season.
o Aesthetics – Maybe it’s just me, but I think that the station houses would look better if they didn’t look like they were standing on stilts.
o Easier access for guests with disabilities. I feel bad when I see someone trying to “swim upstream” against the people coming down the exit ramp. This long winding ramp wouldn’t be necessary. Actually, this point is what got me thinking about this subject in the first place.

The list of parks I’ve visited isn’t very extensive. I’m basing the assumption that most stations are built this way based on my experience at SFGAm and Adventureland (Iowa). Do you think that stations are designed this way because “that’s the way it’s always been done” or am I missing some other obvious reason?

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Wednesday, May 14, 2003 10:36 PM
Well, think about it like this: your lift doesn't have to be as long (it's still high, just not as long). Then you can use all that space below the station as added (kinetic) energy for tha train. Then, when it comes up into the brakes, you drain off some of the train's energy so the brakes don't have to work as hard as they would on the ground.

Just a theory.

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Is that a Q-bot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 8:36 AM
Ask any mechanic, and he will tell you that he would much rather be working on all the complex mechanisms in a station if they are above ground. Better ventilation also helps the equipment to last.

Putting the equipment below ground would actually add quite a bit to the cost. $100,000 here and $100,000 there and pretty soon you coaster has gone up by $1,000,000 that your investors would like to have.

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 9:01 AM
It all depends on the coaster. Modern rides now have advancing wheels in the brake runs/transfer/station area so you don't need a high station. Older rides needed a high station because the only good way to move trains was gravity. If your station's on the ground, where is the train going to go when you dispatch?? Better technology has led coaster designers to better control trains so the system knows where they are within a foot (see station sections of TTD). This new control has basically taken gravity out of train advancement. Unfortulnately, this control has also made the rides way more complex and has introduced more bugs (see station sections of TTD).

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Scott W. Short
scott@midwestcoastercentral.com
http://www.midwestcoastercentral.com
*** This post was edited by ShiveringTim 5/15/2003 1:05:34 PM ***

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 11:12 AM
It mostly has to do with cost factor, if you build a station on the ground level, then you need a foundation, a sump pump to pump the water out, and insulation on the foundation level. whereas if its above ground you can just build it on a few footers or a concrete slab, its just cost factor, if you can save 20-30,000 then why not? and im sure its much easier to matience to move in a whole set of guid wheels, or get large air tanks in when it is above ground, then if it was in some sort of basement w\ stairs or an elevator
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Thursday, May 15, 2003 11:30 AM
Then why aren't all homes built on stilts? I really don't think building on the ground costs more than building in the air.

I think it has a lot to do with maximizing potential energy on the drops and minimizing kinetic energy upon entering the brakes.

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Is that a Q-bot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 11:44 AM
I don't know why, but I like the high stations. They present good opportunities to lean over the edge and spit. ;)

Also, at least on the Beast and Top Gun, there are objects far below on which to drop coins. More points for the smaller ledges of the generator on Top Gun!

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A day is a drop of water in the ocean of eternity. A week is seven drops.

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 12:08 PM
Building higher means that no basement is needed, which saves time on rented equipment and takes less time to complete, which costs them less for the pay of the workers. In essence it comes down to money. The higher up, some parks use under the station (hence Cedar Point for Draggin' Iron and Gemini) for train storage and a maintenance area, which then saves them money so another building / area has to be prepared for that.


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Shaun Rajewski
CoasterLine
http://www.coasterline.com

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 12:25 PM
You don't have to build a basement on any structure.

In fact, SUF's station is gound level. The computer room and air compressors are located on ground level too. The track still goes below station level, and the ride bleeds of energy by rising back up to brake level.

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Is that a Q-bot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 12:26 PM
General Public: i used to work for a contractor, building above ground is 10-20x's cheaper, that is their main factor. it is cheaper to add 10 feet onto the lift then build a basement.

to build a basement you need to get a soil sample, excavate the land create the whole (assumeing you have good soil) you lay gravel, then your cement walls, you need a sump pump to pump out water when it rains, and you need to prep the area around the foundation for rain runoff and erosion. your looking about a20x more cost of just flatting the ground with a bulldozer and throwing a cement slab on it. Houses are build w\ foundations and basements because 1- it looks better, 2 - real estate is expensive and basments offer vaulable storage space\utility space, 3- some areas basements function as a seperate living level.

Has anyone ever tried to carry a 100lb bulky kicker motor down a narrow set of stairs? Also, when you have a basement you need to build a staircase makeing your loading dock bigger then needed, and you have to have clereances around the staircase.

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 12:55 PM
Umm, guys, I'm not buying the whole 'basements cost too much' argument. Every foot you raise the station means a foot you add to every support on the ride. That adds up to a LOT of steel. I'm buying the potential energy thing, as the ride uses much more of its hard earned P.E. by rising back up to a high level for the station.


The only ride I can think of offhand with an actual basement is Avalanche at PKD. The station is pretty much at ground level (Though the lowest point of the ride is still lower than the station)

I'm sure there are others. ...
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Maihama, Maihama Desu

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 1:04 PM

ThemeDesigner said:
Umm, guys, I'm not buying the whole 'basements cost too much' argument. Every foot you raise the station means a foot you add to every support on the ride. That adds up to a LOT of steel. I'm buying the potential energy thing, as the ride uses much more of its hard earned P.E. by rising back up to a high level for the station.

I would have to disagree with you Theme Designer, as the ride could be built the same height off of the ground irrelevant of station height. IE each support would not necessairly be a foot higher for each foot that the station is raised. I hope I am making sense there. As a matter of fact I think that the cost effectiveness of excavating and building a basement thoeory sounds about right to me. But then again I could be totally wrong.

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 1:12 PM
If you ask me putting the satiation up in the air means three things. 1 gravity does a lot of the work to get the train first moving, 2 your mechanics can work on all components of the station easier, and 3 makes the footpath to and from the ride easier. Obviously if you want a park to have a fast moving que line you make getting on and off the ride fast, and for that to happen you have to either go under the tracks before getting on or after you get off. It's just simply easier to have the track up higher. We all know that the cost of stairs/ramp are far cheaper than actually digging out a tunnel.

Just a thought. - Chris

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 3:43 PM
theme designer, buildings are not made entirely out of steel, just the frame, and in a given station, depending on design, it would have just a few steel supports, and some sort of cheap sideing, for the most part they use alum or sheet, witch is much cheaper then a basement
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Thursday, May 15, 2003 5:43 PM
Wow. Just wow.

A station is not built above ground to give a train more energy: it's all lost once the train hits the lift (notice that the energy of a train at the top of lift is independant of what speed it hit the lift). And you have advancing wheels (e.g. S:RoS SFNE directly engages the lift and still has the high station) so it's not to get the train out of station.

The station is not built above ground to "help the brakes."
TTD is stopping trains coming in at 120 MPH (or so). I have a feeling the brakes are doing fine.

The station is not built above ground to help the logistics of footpaths. It's not hard to build a foot path over the track rather than under it (see Lazer at Dorney, for instance).

I would guess it's just so the mechanics can get all into the works easier and so they don't have to dig out a basement.
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Be polite and ignore the idiots. - rollergator
"It's not a Toomer" - Arnold Schwartzenkoph

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 5:47 PM
Also note how a couple recent stations are built at ground level. Great Bear, Dragster, and Apollo all come to mind.

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God bless Intamin, Company that I love. Stand beside her, and ride her, from the opening to the closing of the day.

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 5:50 PM
Andy, BINGO! Also, ThemeDesigner, thats not true at all, for every foot a coasters station is lifted off of the ground, the lift can be reduced by a foot. Say the station is even with the ground, and the lift is 94 feet tall. If the station is 10 feet off of the ground, the lift doesn't have to be 104 feet tall, you just reduce the lift size.

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Shaun Rajewski
CoasterLine
http://www.coasterline.com

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 5:55 PM
I'd be willing to bet that it *does*, in fact, have something to do with lessing of wear and tear on the brakes, in addition to the other issues cited above. Dragster (and the other Intamin hypers) have magnetic brakes, so there *is* no physical wear. And notice that most of the Intamin hyper stations are, more or less, right at ground level. With the station off the ground on B&M (among others) rides, the train enters the station with less speed and, thus, there is less wear on the brakes. It saves on time and money with it comes to maintenance.

-Nate

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Thursday, May 15, 2003 6:25 PM
Coasterdude: MF station is a high up station(probly about a good 7 feet in the air) while dragsters station is only 2--3 feet off the ground, they both use magnetic breaks, so you are totaly wrong
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Thursday, May 15, 2003 6:31 PM
it has nothing to do with the brakes, what would effect it? There is no difference if it was 1 foot off the ground or 17, its all the same..

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Shaun Rajewski
CoasterLine
http://www.coasterline.com

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