Could the Oblivion rollercoaster ever stall?

Oblivion / courtesy of M WellsBy all sensible definitions, it is the steepest rollercoaster in UK – and also has the fastest drop – but could Alton Towers’ Oblivion ever realistically stall?

With a 180 foot (55 metre) drop and a track length of 375 metres, it is difficult to imagine the ride stalling.

The ride’s trains enter the brake run at considerable speed, and there is a large runoff area to allow for deceleration before entering the station.

However, freak events do occur and something like a windswept poncho could catch in a wheel assembly – but even then…

“Of all the coasters I’ve worked on, Oblivion was the one least likely to stall on its test run,” says the ride’s designer John Wardley.

Speaking to us following the release of his autobiography earlier this year, John said that it was almost impossible for the ride’s trains to run out of steam.

“The vehicles had so much surplus energy coming out of the first drop that if we’d fitted square wheels and covered them in Evostik I’m pretty certain they would have got back into the brakes,” he said.

However, a good ride engineer plans for the worst case scenario.

“An evacuation walkway is built into the tunnel to cover for all eventualities. But it has never been used for anything other than maintenance purposes,” John went on.

“And, after all, Oblivion is a B&M ride, so that’s what you would expect anyway!”

5 comments

  1. Deano says:

    Oblivion is far better than mumbo jumbo and saw. They rely on the catch wheels due to the
    Inverted drop and it does result in a slower descent. Until we get our own Shreikra oblivion
    Will rule!!

  2. Dave says:

    Great article guys! Worth pointing out as well that at the time it opened Oblivion was a cutting edge piece of technology, and it is phonenomenal example of engineering .The groundwork involved was ambitious almost to the point of arrogance, and to this day the giant “u bend” buried underneath X-Sector hides much of the track awaiting those who dare to ride Oblivion. It’s a shame when you look at The Smiler compared to Oblivion, as nowadays most will marvel at The Smiler and the amount of inversions the ride has yet for me in relative terms Oblivion was a far greater technological acheivement. I also believe the legacy of Oblivion is far more influential than what The Smiler’s will be.

  3. Jamie says:

    I don’t think you have got that right – Oblivion is not the steepest rollercoaster in the UK!
    Saw: The Ride, Mumbo Jumbo and PMBO are all steeper to name a few!

    • Editor says:

      Thank you for your comment Jamie. You cannot get steeper than 90 degrees in real terms. Anything beyond 90 degrees actually falls slower – hence why the article says ‘sensible definitions’ IE not marketing ploys of beyond vertical. Also, while Saw and Mumbo Jumbo do have > 90 degree drops, the Big One does not.

    • John says:

      Saw the Ride and Mumbo Jumbo maybe, but PMBO is DEFINITELY NOT steeper than Oblivion.