When Taron whooshes powerfully through the rocky landscape of Klugheim, the great adventure that took place long before that will be a distant memory. Between the first wishes and thoughts and the actual realisation of the finished train lay a path full of challenges and surprises stretching back over two full years.
The prerequisites for a successful project was a combination of experience, know-how, openness and painstaking teamwork. All these factors had to be optimally intertwined in the development so that comfort, design, thematic embedding and of course the enormous ride enjoyment could merge into one unit in the train.
For Taron we had found an innovative partner that could bring precisely these qualities into the project: Intamin. With its in-house developed LSM drive, the Liechtenstein company was the perfect manufacturer for our multi-launch coaster and was also the optimum sparring partner in the new development of the train. The train that we had in mind did not in fact yet exist. And so we needed a strong counterpart to support us with technical knowledge and great openness in the adventure of the custom-built train. This willingness to engage fully with the challenges of our vision was then also a crucial prerequisite for being able to select Intamin as our partner for Taron.
For us the guest was always centre stage – how could a ride experience be created being as comfortable as possible and bringing pure ride enjoyment right from the first second at the same time? For Intamin the principal task lay rather in the technical realisation of this ride experience – how could Phantasialand’s wishes be best implemented? Two not always mutually reconcilable aspects that could only lead to success hand in hand. And that’s exactly what we did: together we set off on the exciting journey to develop a completely new design for the perfect train for Taron!
“We wanted a train with all the features that are important for the Taron experience. An alternative was out of the question,”
Sebastian Jonas, Project Developer and Quality Manager at Phantasialand
Our declared aim for this was a ride feel as free and light-hearted as possible. “We wanted a train with all the features that are important for the Taron experience. An alternative was out of the question,” emphasises Sebastian Jonas, Project Developer and Quality Manager at Phantasialand. “The train had to perfectly match the ride.“ While the layout with its figures and changes of direction together with the quality of the track form the basis for the ride enjoyment, the train is to some extent the bridge to the passenger. Its design brings out the way the track is laid out to build up the drama of the ride experience– and can at its best even perceptibly increase it. That is exactly what we wanted to achieve with our train with Taron. The very open design was intended to create in it a particularly free, literally unfettered ride feel– the special extra kick on the fast-paced ride through Klugheim!
An enormously important factor here was the right seat height. Only a raised seat position where the feet do not touch the floor, could enable precisely the feeling of flying through the air that was important to us.
Likewise the straps: Here under no circumstances should the frequently used, restrictive shoulder straps be used. With maximum safety and the greatest possible comfort, the exciting adrenaline rush of the ride should increase the experience on Taron without rigid fastening.
This free seat experience should also be supported by positioning the seats further apart than usual. The special freedom of movement should be perceived as enjoyable for the passenger on all sides.
So that the ride experience for our passengers could also be as comfortable as possible before and after the ride, a continuous floor was in addition our explicit request in the vehicle as only a
rapid, easy passenger change and an equally smooth turnaround time could ensure optimum capacity utilisation to meet our requirements.
“It occasionally happened that something completely failed the first joint review” is how Sebastian Jonas describes this fine tuning.
Also the further “perception” of the train – from actually touching it to its general appearance – should be as enjoyable an experience as possible for the passenger. So only materials should be used that could survive in everyday use. Such as stainless steel for the handles: they should still be good to look at and always feel good in the hand even with sustained use.
In short: seat position, seat shape, headrests, upholstery, straps, handles, design, paintwork, colours, materials – we specified everything and threw everything into the mix of the development process so to speak as the basis for fervent sparring in the grand Taron’s train project. You see we also worked with the engineers of Intamin in the technical development right to the last round – sometimes as an enthusiastic source of ideas, sometimes as a basic “passenger”. In numerous seat tests we tested the comfort of the seat, the most comfortable position of the handles, the best seat height and reviewed the vehicle in every detail. Thus bit by bit the train was developed by the technicians and designers of Intamin and tested by us. Each element had to correspond to what we wanted to achieve for our passengers. We even passionately thrashed out the last centimetre with Intamin and “tweaked” until the result suited everyone involved. “It occasionally happened that something completely failed the first joint review” is how Sebastian Jonas describes this fine tuning. “The design of the front car for example had to be completely reworked after the first production. We all saw at once that the proportions to the rest of the train were simply not right.”
The total weight of the train has been reduced by almost a tonne compared to a conventional standard train.
Alongside this we also repeatedly presented challenges to the manufacturers regarding the technical factors. Such as the issue of the placement of the train technology, i.e. the magnets for drive and brakes and the mechanism for the friction wheels. To prevent the individual components obstructing each other, accommodating them compactly on the very restricted space beneath the train was a tricky matter. Likewise the weight of the train: In order to be able to meet the promised performance values of the intensive catapult launch, the total weight had to be drastically reduced. The solution lay in the use of new materials such as aluminium for the completely newly developed bogies. This enabled the weight compared with a traditional standard train to be reduced by almost a whole tonne – a fantastic feat of engineering!
Intamin dealt with each hurdle in the production process with much ingenuity and developed innovative solutions even at its own request. That Taron’s train had been given a new type of triple strap retention for the first time was, for example, a completely personal contribution by the manufacturer.
The development of Taron’s train was an extremely intensive process for all concerned, a joint adventure full of input and passion with an all round successful outcome. The result speaks for itself: All our ideas of design, comfort and the most up-to-date technology merge into a train just as we had pictured – and which would not have come about otherwise. “Because of our requirements, we have given the impetus to get something quite new up and running here” Sebastian Jonas is pleased with the enriching collaboration. “You could say that without us this train would not exist.”
A custom-built train and we cannot wait for its first use. We look forward excitedly with anticipation to the moment when we see whether all our wishes for the experience of our passengers bear fruit and how it feels to ride on the “Phantasialand train”!