Huge coaster, one thin rail

Popular Science - - BEST OF WHAT’S NEW 2017 -

When pas­sen­gers fi­nally board one of Rocky Moun­tain Con­struc­tion’s new “rap­tor track” coast­ers next spring, they’ll climb into sin­gle-seat cars, open air on ei­ther side as they whip around turns and loops at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. In­stead of rid­ing atop a pair of tracks, rid­ers of thrill sleds like RailBlazer or Won­der Woman Golden Lasso will sit astride a 15-inch­wide steel rail, mak­ing it feel al­most as if they’re rid­ing on the track it­self: no janky rock­ing back and forth— just smooth, pre­cise speed. Amuse­ment-park en­gi­neers get a sweet ex­pe­ri­ence too be­cause the sin­gle-rail de­sign uses less steel; it’s less ex­pen­sive, needs fewer sup­ports, and can fit into a frac­tion of the pre­cious real es­tate that a coaster of a sim­i­lar length and height (1,800 feet long and 113 feet tall) would typ­i­cally need. Down­side? The line to cop a ride. Only eight peo­ple will fit into the first trains, but the de­sign­ers plan to build a mov­ing load­ing sys­tem that keeps the ride (and queues) flow­ing smoothly.

Pho­to­graph by Me­gan Loper

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