Staying on track: how BIM keeps UK’s biggest roller-coaster running

01 Mar 2023 Long Read

UK engineering firm Taziker has developed a unique methodology for replacing worn track on The Big One roller-coaster in Blackpool. Point-cloud data and BIM technology combine to ensure the roller-coaster opens on time each year with a smooth ride for visitors.

Roller-coaster tracks take a beating during the amusement-park season.

The trains are heavy when packed with people, bringing multiple tons of force to bear down on the track. This force is greatest at points where the track dips and turns. Here the steel is constantly tensing and flexing, over time leading to small surface cracks that can cause a bumpier ride.

This is why Blackpool Pleasure Beach, one of the UK’s leading amusement parks, annually refurbishes sections of the track on one of its main attractions: The Big One. When it opened in 1994, The Big One was the world’s tallest and steepest roller-coaster. Its highest point is 65 meters, with a drop angle of 65 degrees. More than 10 million runs have taken place on The Big One, which is still the tallest rollercoaster in the UK.

Since 2019, engineering firm Taziker has been responsible for replacing any worn track with newly manufactured sections. Taziker has developed a unique method for doing this, as Managing Director and The Big One project manager Jarrod Hulme explains, “We came up with a completely new way of addressing this by capturing a 3D point cloud of the track that needs to be replaced. “We started off using the Trimble SX10 and now we’re using the Trimble X7, capturing millions of location points that we then use to model the steelwork. These Trimble products are nicely integrated with Tekla software.”