Eurostar - The full story  

An article by Jochen Peschel


Huge rides have a long tradition on German funfairs. In no other country in the world rides, log flumes and roller coasters of comparable size can be found. Constructions like Alpina-Bahn or Olympia Looping are crowd pullers on every fairground due to their majestic appearance. But almost ten years ago showman Oscar Bruch took another step forward and presented the world's first and largest traveling inverted coaster: Eurostar.

Oscar Bruch was born into the profession of a showman and ever since did his job with heart and soul. Under his supervision attractions like Looping Star, the first traveling looping coaster, or the legendary Thriller found their way to the fairgrounds. There were almost no boundaries to his ingenuity: No ride was too large or to daring.

"I have always been his drag shoe", says his wife Inge Bruch. "He always has big ideas, and I care for that he remains well grounded and the rides are financially feasible." But in the middle of the 90s he prevailed once again. The idea of inverted coasters was rather young and spreading quickly when he realized the potential and wanted to make it ready for the traveling market. It should become clear very early that Eurostar was going to be a quite unusual project companies from all over Europe would be involved in.

Construction .
Control unit Inverted coaster seat position
First drop from worm's eye view
First drop
Entrance vertical loop
Vertical loop Inversion

With 11kph upwards the lifthill

Under the general supervision of the Bruch engineering office, which existed in Münsterhausen between 1993 and 1997, the development and construction of the entire attraction were carried out. Münsterhausen is a small city in Southern Germany with traditions in roller coasters. It was the domicile of the legendary company Schwarzkopf. Bruch's engineering office was founded explicitly for a new ride - that it was to be Eurostar was not foreseeable at that time. Normally a roller coaster is commissioned to a single company that delivers the ride virtually turnkey ready. But here the supervision was in the hands of the own engineering office that distributed the individual tasks to several subcontractors and coordinated their interaction.

So the Stengel engineering office conducted the exact static and dynamic calculations on the basis of a rough track layout designed by Oscar Bruch. This happened in thight cooperation with the Bruch engineering office that constructed the sole at the same time. According to the calculations a detailed model was built, now being shown at the Stadtmuseum in Munich. The ride must have caused some headache for Werner Stengel, since one morning he phoned the engineering office in Münsterhausen to tell about a nightmare he had the night before. In this nightmare he noticed that the head pieces (the connection elements between the supports and the track backbone) are not sufficiently dimensioned. An immediate review showed that the original calculations were absolutely correct - the construction of Eurostar could proceed as planned.

Peppy first drop

Under the subproject management of the Intamin AG - which designed and produced the control system - components like the track, the lift and most parts of the electrical system were delivered by Swiss subcontractor Giovanola. The chocks, the sole and the supports were produced by Mannhardt, a company from Germering in the rural district of Fürstenfeldbruck in Southern Germany that had to declare bankruptcy during the construction period. So Oscar Bruch founded a hive-off vehicle for the rest of the construction phase to assure completion of his roller coaster.

The components of the trains were produced by a Dutch company, whose name is not ascertainable anymore, while the final assembly was carried out by Giovanola. The cash box area was done by Mack Rides, the station and the exit area by Johann Gerstlauer, whose brother Hubert owns the Gerstlauer Elektro GmbH. The illumination was manufactured by the Pelz company which is located in Münsterhausen, too.

The result of the combined efforts is truly impressive - which can be seen by the specifications alone: The looping coaster weighs 1200 tons according to information of the operator, together with the 84 transports it even reaches 2000 tons. A total of 126 track segments result in a track length of 843.8 meters (plus a 22 meters storage track). With a total height of about 35 meters (height of the entire structure) Eurostar was one of the highest roller coasters in Germany for a long time - only for a few years there are four higher stationary coasters. The total construction cost as specified by the Bruch company is more than 14 million Euros.

From place to place .
Animation Aufbau

Animation installation at Rheinwiesen Düsseldorf

Supported rail joint
Chain and anty roll back device
Base frame with helix in the background
Installation track pieces Measurement
Track pieces
Installation columns

Eurostar debuted on July 20th, 1995 in Düsseldorf with a delay of six days. The reason for that was the sheer size of the roller coaster. "At that time the dimension of the ride was simply underestimated", tells Siegfried Scholten, who today is the technical manager of the Bruch company. "The deconstruction at the factory in Switzerland had started only 14 days before the opening of the Düsseldorf fair. Last but not least due to the enormous heat that year the work progress was simply too slow. In addition, the routine and an efficient concept were missing. The team stood in front of a huge bunch of single parts they had to assemble to a roller coaster."

Today assembly and disassembly follow a defined scheme that appoints a determined place on the trailers for each element. These trailers predominantly are customized products showing special mountings for each part and therefore enable an efficient handling. During the first assembly and disassembly processes the original allocation was optimized to achieve that all parts can be directly inserted into the structure without the need to put them down and pick them up again.

Technical drawings- Stengel GmbH project 9306

The layout is the geometrical sketch of the track. It shows the exact sequence of the ups and downs and the inversions. The graphics consists of a ground view and an unwind of the track.

Developed view

Unwind of track - Maximize with left click

The ground view shows the track layout by aerial view. The unwind of track shows the track unrolled in a plain view. Especially the height progression is visible. Also technical information (inclination, distance of columns, ...) are given.

Ground view

Ground view: Track and heartline are shown - Maximize with left click

Moving the coaster from one fair to the other is a logistic masterpiece the technical manager Siegfried Scholten and his team accomplished more than 60 times since the debut 1995 in Düsseldorf. Disassembly, transport and assembly need a minimum time of eight days. This time can only be met if 20 workers sail in around the clock and four cranes are used. 18 tractors are necessary for transporting the trailers to their destination in time. But this pressure is a rare exception, usually disassembly takes 10 days and assembly 14. The whole coaster has to be laden and transported before the assembly can begin, since Eurostar has no second sole - as, for example, the log flume Wildwasser III of German showman Joachim Löwenthal has.

At the same time the sole turns out to be the most complex part of the assembly. It has the be precisely aligned in order that the whole ride stands straight and the static and dynamic forces are safely led into the ground. For this purpose sophisticated laser leveling instruments are used to ensure that all support points are on the same level. The steel sole is variably underpinned depending on the evenness of the ground. Like for all mobile rides wooden beams and planks of different thickness are used for this task.


Track length

844 meters

Max. heigth

30,15 meters


83 x 43 meters

Max. velocity

81 kph

Max. longitudinal banking


Max. transversal banking


Max. vertical acceleration


Max. transversal acceleration


Max. longitudinal acceleration

0,8g (at final brakes)

Ride time (from lift exit to brakes)

46 seconds


4, per 28 seats


2880 people per hour


Stengel GmbH, Munich


Bruch, Münsterhausen


Schausteller Oscar Bruch, Andernach

World premiere

July 20th 1995


The further assembly is pure routine: Piece for piece the respective next supports are installed and the next track segment is mounted thereupon, resulting in an inherent stability making the single segments standing free. Due to the conical design of the connections the mutual elements are automatically adjusted correctly before they are fixed in position by large bolts. For the supports the rather unusual H-profiles were used. The Stengel engineering office had adopted them only once before for the transportable Münchner Bahn by Schwarzkopf, a ride debuting on the Oktoberfest in 1982.

Due to the compact design of Eurostar there was not much room, especially for inclined supports. Tube supports standing almost upright with an excentric load would have caused diameters of more than one meter to lead off the occurring forces. So for Eurostar, too, the engineers reverted to the so-called HEB-profiles that need less installation space and are easier to handle and transport as a result of their structure.

The trains are being transported hanging at track segments of the station, with the track being borne on elements of the station via transport supports. With a weight of 22.6 tons those concurrently are the heaviest transports. In contrast to smaller coasters the chain of the lift is not unsewed in one point and laden in one piece. Instead, it remains piecewise in the segments of the lift and is joined later.

Ride experience .
Overview Eurostar

After leaving the station at the front side of the ride a wide 180 degrees turn leads the train and the 28 passengers to the lift at the back side. By means of a chain a height difference of about 30 meters is negotiated. The following first drop describes a tight turn to the right. Within five seconds the train accelerates from 11 to almost 81 kilometers per hour.

The exit of the first drop ends in the large vertical loop located parallel in front of the chain lift. This arrangement is the biggest drawback of the layout, since the impressive element is partly concealed by the front part of the track and the platform of the second block brake, making it much less appealing for spectators than for example at the Olympia Looping. In return, the position of the subsequent Revolution is all the more striking, since the train winds through this element above the station after a left turn towards the front of the ride.

After another left turn there is the first opportunity for the riders to catch their breath while the track including the first block brake unfolds between the lift hill and the vertical loop for the complete width of the structure. After yet another left turn two consecutive corkscrews right through the ride follow before an upwards right turn leads into the second block brake at the front. Afterwards, the train dives into a tight downwards helix with intense positive Gs before it passes a small hill and rolls into the final brake at the rear of the construction and slowly back into the station.

It is a truly impressive achievement to squeeze such a diversified layout onto a footprint of just 83 times 43 meters, while offering a mixture of speedy and calm sections. The already mentioned hidden arrangement of the vertical loop is the only drawback, and it is only cosmetic in nature.

Refurbishments .

The 26 meters tall vertical loop

IIn the course of time it appeared that the ride is rough and unpleasant here and there, which can be explained by fabrication tolerances on the one hand and by the frequent assembly and disassembly that particularly strains the joinings on the other hand. This is additionally amplified by the small footprint that leads to a tight layout with accordingly intense forces. Already in its first year 1995 teething troubles arose. For the Winterdom in Hamburg a brief refurbishment was conducted, during the rest of the season and during winter 16 track segments were stiffened with doweled joints. Those are the noticeable sheet plates between the backbone and the track tubes.


In 2003 further optimization actions were undertaken. "It is the intention of my husband to offer a pleasant ride on each of his attractions. The name Oscar Bruch shall always be a synonym for quality", says Inge Bruch. "I want to point out that the refurbishment was our own decision and not a requirement of TÜV."

Shortly after the banks gave the go-ahead for financing the refurbishment, Eurostar was assembled at the site of the Gerstlauer Elektro GmbH in Münsterhausen after the Oktoberfest 2003. "Gerstlauer had renewed the electrical system für Alpina Bahn and built attractive rides recently. So the choice was easy whom to instruct with the revision of Eurostar", reports Inge Bruch. As with the construction of the ride, several companies and persons were involved in the project.

Before the assembly the team of Siegfried Scholten conducted a manual measurement of the track gage with a calliper. This was repeated with a special vehicle built by Gerstlauer for the assembled ride. It appeared that there were no major shortcomings, but chances for improvements.

Left: Revolution - right: Unusual perspective of the vertical loop

In a second step acceleration forces were measured. This task was fulfilled by Christian Rohm, a specialist for surveying who had already cooperated with the Stengel engineering office in the past. He developed a special system that allows to relate the measured forces fairly exactly to the track position. On the basis of his work track segments were identified that showed the highest lateral forces. Those elements were then measured with a special 3D technique to enable comparisons with the original construction drawings. The results were transmitted to the Stengel engineering office for further processing and analysis to decide which track element could and should be reformed.

At the Stengel engineering office the measured coordinates were first compared to the originally calculated data. Harald Wanner, who works for Werner Stengel since 1981 and who was already responsible for the dynamic calculations during the construction of Eurostar, was entrusted with this task. It was his job to create manufacturing data for new track elements that would reduce the lateral forces.

121 overbanked curve
Impression Exit Revolution
Exit first corkscrew Second corkscrew
Front view of train in helix

The mission was to find a solution that creates the best possible ride experience with feasible efforts. The main requirement was to re-use the old backbone since it ideally fits into the coaster - a complete re-design would have required a modification of the supports which would have resulted in immense costs. So the maximum variation between the old and the new track tubes was limited to three centimeters. After intensive calculations the optimal track layout was found and the manufacturing data could be forwarded to the Gerstlauer Elektro GmbH. According to these data, the new track tubes were bent in Münsterhausen.

Double corkscrews

Prior to the assembly for the Düsseldorf fair in 2004 the Revolution, the turn after the Revolution and the turn after the first block brake were replaced. Acceleration measurements after this first refurbishment phase have shown that the maximum lateral forces could be reduced by up to two third. In addition, prior to the Oktoberfest in Munich the vertical loop was buttressed and holes were drilled into the doweled joints to reduce their oscillation and therefore the noise development. This and the additional modification of the track connections was done under the supervision of technical manager Siegfried Scholten. "The efforts were very worthwhile", he says. "The ride became much more pleasant. You can see from the reactions of the riders that we have achieved a huge improvement."

In addition to the replacement of some track elements further work was done by the Gerstlauer Elektro GmbH. To reduce the noise development even more, the chain dog of the lift was modified. A cover is slid over the sawtooth profile from the side by pneumatic cylinders. This makes the detent that catches the profile in case of an emergency run on a flat surface instead of jumping from tooth to tooth thus creating a loud noise.

Such a change in a basic safety mechanism demands a difficult control to ensure the riders´ safety and to receive approval by TÜV. So the speed of the train is constantly controlled. If there is a difference from a reference speed, the cover is immediately pulled aside and the detent can engage the sawtooth profile. As it is common with brakes, this system is fail safe, thus adopting a safe state in case of a failure. This is achieved by springs pulling the cover aside if the system is not powered, making the chain dog operate as usual. With this modification the bigger part of the noise development could be eliminated.

The helix guides the train through the "supports jungle"

In 2005 Eurostar starts technically smartened into the 11th year on the road. Altogether more than one million Euros were invested for the refurbishment - more than the cost price of many new rides. In a time that sees huge rides on traveling fairs getting increasingly rare, the inverted coaster still impresses with a monumental appearance and a racy ride experience. Very well then: To another ten successfull years!

Many thanks to the following people for the friendly support on realizing this article: Inge Bruch, Siegfried Gerstlauer, Josef Herzog, Christian Rohm, Siegfried Scholten, Patrick Spieldiener, Harald Wanner and Lutz Hofmann / Aqua Velis

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