In January 2022, Alton Towers submitted an application to confirm the lawfulness of maintenance works to Nemesis, with the intention of increasing the rollercoaster’s lifespan. It is proposed that the majority of the roller coaster’s track sections will be replaced, including 89 of the 117 supports, along with work to strengthen and improve the foundations.
A full run down of the work proposed as follows:
- Replacement of coaster track from the crest of the lift hill, to the start of the brake run.
- Replacement of 89 of the 117 supports in these areas.
- Removal of 636 bolts which will be replaced and re-grouted.
- Localised maintenance undertaken to the theming and buildings as required.
- The tunnel section below the maintenance building will be retained as existing, and the coaster track which runs through the tunnel replaced alongside the structural beam.
- Footers will be strengthened in limited locations, and an additional foundation installed for a support on the downwards helix, which has received modifications in the past.
- The replacement track and supports will follow the existing layout and design, and will have the same appearance externally.
In addition to the works ensuring safety standards are maintained while keeping within the existing overall design, an additional benefit is that the coaster track will be sand filled, which will reduce noise levels to the benefit of the site and local area. The current track does not have this feature as the method was not widely used when the ride was first constructed. Early B&M roller coasters are famous for their loud roar when in operation, which is produced when the train travels over the track causing an echo in the hollow spine interior. Although the signature roar that Nemesis is known for will be sad to lose, Alton Towers are committed to being good neighbours to the surrounding area, and must make efforts to reduce noise produced from the Resort when opportunities arise.
What’s not affected?
The following will be unaffected by the proposed maintenance work:
- The 28 supports located below the station building (6 pairs of columns), the station exit (6 columns) and the ride lift hill (5 pairs of columns) do not need to be replaced and will be retained.
- There are 112 rock anchors in some of the foundations below the supports which effectively fix the structure to the rock. These are steel bars approximately 9-10 metres in length. The rock anchors have been tested, and all 112 rock anchors will be retained. There are 43 other steel bars which are of a different design which also support columns. These will also be retained.
- The station building will be retained and so too will the theming – as noted above, localised maintenance to the theming will be undertaken as required.
- The maintenance and emergency access steps alongside the lift hill, track and supports.
- Retaining walls will be unaffected by the proposed maintenance works and will be retained as existing.
- The tunnels themselves within the development.
- The maintenance building and plant room.
- The photography building.
- The queue line, pathways and fencing.
- No trees will be removed as a result of the proposed works.
- Once the maintenance works are complete there will be no change to levels on site.
What about the trains?
Although new B&M rides can be purchased with an updated train design featuring vest restraints, it is not anticipated that Nemesis will receive a different design of train to the existing, as the clearance envelopes would not accommodate the wider newer design. It is prudent to note that the application does not make any mention of the ride vehicles being replaced, however we can safely assume that the two existing trains are coming to the end of their life and will be replaced alongside the structure.
When will the work be completed?
Although no timeline for the maintenance work has been published, we expect it will be completed in time for the 2024 season, when the ride will be 30 years old. Therefore, we would expect the ride to be closed throughout 2023, and potentially shut towards the end of the 2022 season to allow works to begin.
With Nemesis getting ever closer to its 30th birthday, the whispers and rumours around a possible retrack had begun to circulate, although such plans were only officially confirmed when an application was submitted by the Resort in early 2022. These showed that the vast majority of the track and supports would be replaced as part of the planned work, with the main exceptions being the infrastructure for the brake run, station and lift hill, since these areas had understandably not been exposed to the same stresses as the rest of the layout over the ride’s lifetime.