Ski Hill Amusement Rides Case Study: Revelstoke Mountain Coaster

With a vision to become a year-round destination, many ski hill operators are opting to add amusement rides to increase the breadth of their attraction for visitors.  This trend is seen by Technical Safety BC's safety officers, who increasingly inspect coaster-type amusement devices as well as passenger ropeways in the same area. The Revelstoke Mountain Coaster installed at Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a great example.  A 1.4 km mono-tube rail designed in Austria and featuring a 279m vertical drop, the Revelstoke Mountain Coaster was made to ensure the car cannot detach from the rail.

The cars feature a speed regulating automatic braking system in the wheels that restricts the speed of the cars to 42 km/h. The cars can be slowed by the user and if the user lets go of the handle, an automatic braking system will bring the car to a complete stop.

Similar to passenger ropeways safety requirements, staff operating the coaster must complete a thorough pre-operational inspection of the passenger carrying units, the track, and safety functions. A daily pre-operational checklist must be filled out.  Maintenance staff are expected to inspect and document maintenance on the passenger carrying units and track according to the manufacturer’s prescribed maintenance intervals for all required maintenance.

Like passenger ropeways, an inspection of the ride would also include testing of safety functions, clearances to obstructions, inspection of braking systems and passenger carrying units.

As the first of its kind in Canada, it was originally a challenge to identify and provide recommendations to collision avoidance measures.

Firstly, the cars’ braking systems did not function properly in wet or icy conditions. It was necessary to install a speed-sensing device to alert the operator if cars were traveling at an excessive speed. An inclement weather operating plan was also developed to mitigate wet or icy operating conditions.

Secondly, the operator did not know where on the track each car was located at any time. The concern for accidents warranted an application, or app, to be developed for ipads used by the operators so they could time cars from start to finish on the track. If a car did not arrive at the finish area in the allotted time frame, operation of the coaster would be halted until staff could find the location of the car.

Lastly, limited site lines on areas where the rail made a sudden drop in elevation create a collision hazard for users. A limited site line mitigation plan was employed to reduce collision risk.  Solar-powered warning lights would flash in areas with limited site line until a car has successfully passed through the area. This was achieved by the use of photo eye sensors. 

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