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Raik – A coaster built in the eye of a needle

Text: Christian Buhl
Video: Robert Fülling

New themed world Klugheim

Klugheim is growing bigger by the hour. Against the backdrop of a mighty, rocky landscape, 120-tonne trucks and cranes perform a daily dance with one another. On the ground, diggers and cement mixers slip past one another beneath the roar of Taron’s tracks while the growing village in the heart of Klugheim takes up more and more space with each new wooden beam. Like a huge puzzle, this busy building site reveals something new on a daily basis. People and machines work closely side-by-side to create our new themed world.

This adventurous, tightly-packed space is home to Raik. Our vision for Klugheim did not stop with Taron. As well as the thrilling multi-launch coaster, we were keen to build a second roller coaster that would offer an experience for the entire family. Our aim for Raik is to provide a fun ride experience especially for our smaller roller coaster fans that is not too intense for inexperienced riders. And the ride will take on a grand scale: Raik will be the biggest family boomerang of its type – despite the challenging space restrictions.

After all, Raik is not just going sit next to Taron, it is actually going to sit in the middle of it. By the way, the space needed for the second roller coaster was not simply cleared; Raik had to conquer the space for itself. Like threading a needle, Raik’s tracks have to be positioned carefully to make the most of every last millimetre of space and all of the special conditions, coming together to form a coherent overall experience. An experience that is at least as exciting as the construction process for this family boomerang.

The coaster is being constructed at a point where visitors will be able to truly feel the pulse of the park. The lift hill and the end of the track jut out towards the River Quest water ride with the tracks penetrating the roof of the towering building. From there, it heads straight through the centre of Klugheim, almost merging with Taron’s steel, and even heads underneath a bridge as it runs closely along the back of the Feng Ju Palace attraction.

For Peter Barth and his construction team, this is like a daily game of pick-up sticks as they manoeuvre the long steel tracks through the tiniest of gaps. “We have to build through a house, along the side of a house and through a ravine, and on top of that we have to deal with the intersection with wood. Wood is not particularly compatible with iron; a single move in the wrong direction and it breaks straight away” explains the construction specialist. With his company “Bergen, Schleppen und Heben” (“Rescuing, towing and lifting”), the Euskirchen-based specialist has many years of experience in erecting roller coasters. “To be honest, I have never worked in conditions like this. Every single millimetre really counts” exclaims the expert.
Despite the difficult circumstances, Raik is growing at an unstoppable rate. With every day, the boomerang coaster creeps further into the world of Taron with every piece of track. Sometimes it is so tight that you’d think you could simply reach out your hand and touch the steel and rocks – and at one point on the track, you really can do this. Here, the near-miss effect turned out to be a little bit too near. And just before completion! By the time the 50-tonne crane had the last piece of track on its hook, everyone knew: It is a little too tight this time. A piece of rock and the wall to Feng Ju Palace are stopping the track from joining.

In this case, the only thing that can help are heavy machinery, a whole lot of instinct, and patience. The authentic-looking rocks have to be demolished and the team have to break through the thick concrete wall. Using a hammer with a handle as long as an arm and a drill the size of a pickaxe, the team step up to the centimetre-thick stone until the stubborn concrete has nothing more to give and there is enough space for Raik’s last piece of track.

However, the team cannot be sure that they have knocked away enough stone until they check the clearance. The metal frame is attached to a test car and pulled past the place in question. During this process, the model simulates every movement a guest can make – like stretching out their arms – and shows where the track is tight or even too tight. While things are still a bit tight at this point, this is exactly the way we want it: Here, the rocks and concrete give Raik just enough room to guide the train safely over the track but at the same surprising riders with a unique and powerful near-miss effect.

Just a few minutes later, Peter Bartch is in the cab of the crane, navigating the track slowly but carefully towards the final gap. Using hand signals, his colleagues tell him to slowly start lowering the track. Centimetre by centimetre, the ends of the tracks slide closer together, slowly creating a consistent line out of two steel constructions. There are still a few millimetres left when the steel screws finally finish the fine-tuning and the tracks are fixed in their final position. Now Raik is complete and every last centimetre of Klugheim really has been given over to ultimate ride enjoyment.

New themed world Klugheim
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