The black hole was sbno for ages, because of some unexpected improvements required that were too cost prohibitive, ie it was mothballed a few years before they originally planned to close it, to save money before the replacement comes along, ie the Smiler.
So for instance if ripsaw is up for replacement in the next few years they are probably doing the same thing here, I don't think the closures will be for one season, they will be a planned closure, bought forward as a cost saving measure.
Why was nemesis sub terra closed, same reason? Is it going to reopen?
The writing on the wall for the Black Hole was a change in the Health & Safety rules regarding evacuation times from "enclosed structures". They set new time limits on these & if a train stopped at the stop of the spiral lift, it would have been impossible to get the guests out down the spiral walkway in the prescribed time.
The alternative was to spend [a lot of £££] on a central evacuation stairway that would have gone over the track at various points in the spiral and down a central stairway. The cost I heard mentioned was several hundreds of thousands of pounds for this.
Whilst we all have our own views on Merlin cost-cutting (& it looks like these may intensify next season if the 6 ride closure is true) - it's safe to say that investing a lot of money in a ride that is towards the end of it's life is not a wise move.
OK - I know that the Black Hole sale to a park in South America fell through & it was returned to Germany for refurbishment. It has since re-opened at Furuvik in Sweden. In one case, it's a shame Alton could not have had it refurbished, but would a 30 year old coaster have pulled in the punters? No. They had to go with The Smiler to keep ahead of the game.