Jump to content
  TPR Home | Parks | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 

Alton Towers Discussion Thread


Recommended Posts

With that in mind, let's go back to the above scenario. A ride technician responds to a breakdown, and sees that train 2 has been sitting on the lift (in Block A) for 5 minutes or so. It seems very likely that one could easily mis-judge the number of units on the track, the technician in this situation then likely cleared Block B, not realizing a train was in there, allowing train 2 to continue, where it then collided with train 1.

I've made a tl;dr version of what you were saying, which is actually my thoughts as well on this incident. Again, not wanting to speculate and will be VERY interested to see what the actual report has to say, but I would be very surprised if this wasn't due to human error running the ride in maintenance/manual mode by a technician that didn't realize a train had valleyed and over-rode the computers safety systems.

 

It's very sad that this is my initial speculations and part of the reason why I put more trust in computers than I do in humans.

Edited by robbalvey
Link to comment
Share on other sites

With that in mind, let's go back to the above scenario. A ride technician responds to a breakdown, and sees that train 2 has been sitting on the lift (in Block A) for 5 minutes or so. It seems very likely that one could easily mis-judge the number of units on the track, the technician in this situation then likely cleared Block B, not realizing a train was in there, allowing train 2 to continue, where it then collided with train 1.

I've made a tl;dr version of what you were saying, which is actually my thoughts as well on this incident. Again, not wanting to speculate and will be VERY interested to see what the actual report has to say, but I would be very surprised if this wasn't due to human error running the ride in maintenance/manual mode by a technician that didn't realize a train had valleyed and over-rode the computers safety systems.

 

It's very sad that this is my initial speculations and part of the reason why I put more trust in computers than I do in humans.

 

I would be shocked if this isn't a situation where there is human error. Biggest surprise to me is that even in maintenance mode there wouldn't be some kind of a "hey buddy, you're being stupid" alarm that would sound. If I'm driving too fast in a parking lot and not paying attention and my car detects I'm about to rear end somebody it will slam the brakes for me. I would have guessed at a minimum the rides computer would have alerted the operator that there was a problem, or not allow the train to continue, even in maintenance mode.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The park have made the decision to keep the park closed again tomorrow (Thursday 4th June) after yesterdays incident.

 

1544514373_ScreenShot2015-06-03at5_52_03pm.png.096a75320c2c2c06964c0d82a671303d.png

 

Honestly I'm surprised at this move. I understood todays closure but a second one I'm not to sure about. I would have thought today would have allowed them to really close off X-Sector and anything else they deamed necessary to get the park opened today. I get the feeling this is something that the HSE has pushed the park to do not something they have just decided to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I would be shocked if this isn't a situation where there is human error. Biggest surprise to me is that even in maintenance mode there wouldn't be some kind of a "hey buddy, you're being stupid" alarm that would sound. If I'm driving too fast in a parking lot and not paying attention and my car detects I'm about to rear end somebody it will slam the brakes for me. I would have guessed at a minimum the rides computer would have alerted the operator that there was a problem, or not allow the train to continue, even in maintenance mode.

 

There is, but I would think an engineer can override the block alarm, to tell the computer that the block is empty. So, its possible for someone to be told there is a block, think its just an error, clear it, then this sort of accident can happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never operated a ride myself, but don't coasters go down for erroneous sensor errors all the time? I'd be interested in hearing more from an actual ride mechanic, but I'd guess most control system errors / alarms are the result of problems with the control system itself rather than actual safety hazards. Sadly, I could see how that could create a "cry wolf" culture in which mechanics override ride control systems without first properly vetting each and every computer identified "problem."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So whats next? the coaster is brand new. People will avoid this coaster like the plague after a crash. They may be forced to remove it.

 

Robb answered this question a few pages back........

 

I wonder how much longer until Alton Towers removes the coaster?

Yes, I'm sure Alton Towers is going to get right on that removing their $30 million investment over this accident. Just like Six Flags Over Texas removed Texas Giant or Six Flags New England removed Superman....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's just in case if a chain breaks, the train would slowly descend to the base of the lift. But if a chain stops, the train would stay in a same position.
The train does slowly rollback if the lift stops, it doesnt stay in place.

Oh right, the second lift is vertical, so it does slowly roll back. But the first lift isn't vertical and has a catwalk so I assume it stays in the same position if the ride stops. That's what some people said happened yesterday, the car was stuck on the first lift hill for cca 5 minutes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So whats next? the coaster is brand new. People will avoid this coaster like the plague after a crash. They may be forced to remove it.

 

Robb answered this question a few pages back........

 

I wonder how much longer until Alton Towers removes the coaster?

Yes, I'm sure Alton Towers is going to get right on that removing their $30 million investment over this accident. Just like Six Flags Over Texas removed Texas Giant or Six Flags New England removed Superman....

 

And let's not forget that someone was actually killed on Big Thunder at Disneyland, and that ride is as popular as ever.

 

Best to wait for the results of an investigation, rather than jump to conclusions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So whats next? the coaster is brand new. People will avoid this coaster like the plague after a crash. They may be forced to remove it.

 

A few people will avoid it. Most won't. A few years down the line people will probably have forgotten about it. The Runaway Train was involved in an accident in 2006, I bet most people are completely unaware now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Biggest surprise to me is that even in maintenance mode there wouldn't be some kind of a "hey buddy, you're being stupid" alarm that would sound. If I'm driving too fast in a parking lot and not paying attention and my car detects I'm about to rear end somebody it will slam the brakes for me. I would have guessed at a minimum the rides computer would have alerted the operator that there was a problem, or not allow the train to continue, even in maintenance mode.

 

It is very likely that there WAS some sort of warning light or message that displayed that the block was not cleared, but that's the whole point of operating it in manual or maintenance mode. You are essentially turning off and ignoring any computer notifications or warnings. When you turn that key to disable the computer, you are taking entire responsibility of the ride in your hands. It is VERY rare that I've seen a ride operate in maintenance mode with people on it. But I have seen it happen before and the person controlling it needs to be paying EXTREME caution to make sure everything on the ride is in the proper place before you send a train around.

 

Going back to my "I'm speculating, but I probably shouldn't mode", I'm also going to guess that part of the reason why the park has remained closed now for two days is because this was human error. Again, I don't want to speculate but to me, if it was a computer error isolated to that one ride, I think it would be "ok" to open up and operate other rides. But if this is human error, where that team of humans are working on ALL the rides in the park, it might be necessary, if not required by UK's Health and Safety to shut the park down and make sure that maintenance team is given proper training or evaluation of their job performance.

Edited by robbalvey
Link to comment
Share on other sites

^Agreed. Like you said (which has been true in my personal operational experience as well), some parks have policies that strictly prohibit operating an attraction in manual mode with guests.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The park being closed was a huge surprise to me, but thinking about it if they suspect it was a human error then I guess they want to refresh/retrain staff on breakdown procedures etc, look at their breakdown restart processes etc and see if there are any loopholes that could have caused this collision.

 

I think the thing is that if Smiler was run on maintenance mode or not reset properly it could in theory happen to any coaster there which is probably why they are being so cautious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is believed to be H&S' decision to close the park while the investigation is going on which is seemingly going to include all other coasters at Alton Towers should this be a technical fault. H&S will have to check all the coasters are being run as they should be and all regulations are being followed. Although it may not seem totally necessary it is the right thing to do in my opinion.

Edited by jackandylan123
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The park being closed was a huge surprise to me, but thinking about it if they suspect it was a human error then I guess they want to refresh/retrain staff on breakdown procedures etc, look at their breakdown restart processes etc and see if there are any loopholes that could have caused this collision.

 

I think the thing is that if Smiler was run on maintenance mode or not reset properly it could in theory happen to any coaster there which is probably why they are being so cautious.

Exactly. I am *shocked* that their procedure wasn't to evac the train of people who were stuck on the lift BEFORE operating the ride in manual mode. And who knows, maybe that was their procedure (which would fall in line with what most parks do) and that wasn't being followed, which is a much bigger issue with their maintenance staff.

 

Again, this is purely "speculation" and nothing has been reported to make be believe this was actually the case, just my own personal experience working around rides most of my life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know Robb touched on some of what I'm going to say, but I figured I'd give my two cents given my background working with amusement rides.

 

I am leading to believe that this was a human error issue, especially if the rumor that the loaded train was on the lift for a few minutes prior to the incident. From personal experience, I know that there are ways to clear a block while you are in maintenance mode. Usually there's no second alarm that will warn you about doing so because with Maintenance Mode all bets are off. You are basically disabling a lot of the systems that are put in place to prevent an operator from doing something stupid with the ride. This is why there is a special key needed to place the coaster in this mode and you SHOULD never operate in maintenance mode with guests on because you never know what can happen. Keep in mind that when a coaster is in Maintenance Mode it is expected that there is a fully trained technician at the control panel and there doesn't need to be levels upon levels of safety systems to ensure ride safety compared to when a 18 year old kid is operating the ride.

 

If the rumor is true that the loaded train was on the lift for a few minutes prior to the incident, I'd like to think that the unloaded train valleyed and a technician cleared the block to allow the train on the lift to proceed. I don't care what kind of reputation Gerstlauer has, I can guarantee you that the commissioning process for a control system would not allow some crazy fault to occur to make this happen. Weeks of testing is performed on simulating fault conditions and seeing how the system responds to them, and surely block zone monitoring is tested! This coaster is in Europe and I can tell you from personal experience the approval process of rides in Europe is very very strict. I do not believe this incident was the fault of the ride manufacturer but that's just my opinion as of right now.

 

Also, for those saying that a sensor could have been set off by a bird or some other object, I will tell you this. I can guarantee you that there is not a single coaster built in the last 10 years that has used a photo eye for a safety critical sensor on the ride. I would go as far as saying that all modern coasters use inductive proximity sensors to monitor the positioning of the ride vehicles and those require a piece of metal to "flag" the sensor and tell the system that it's been contacted. So unless there is a bird out there made of metal that flew within 3-5mm of a ride sensor, I can guarantee you that this was not caused by an object incidentally setting it off.

 

Exactly. I am *shocked* that their procedure wasn't to evac the train of people who were stuck on the lift BEFORE operating the ride in manual mode. And who knows, maybe that was their procedure (which would fall in line with what most parks do) and that wasn't being followed, which is a much bigger issue with their maintenance staff.

 

I think this goes back to what someone said about how this would never happened at a REAL amusement park. I'm pretty sure if a vehicle was stuck on the lift for several minutes and required technicians to troubleshoot the issue at Disney or Universal, they would have most definitely evacuated the vehicle before restarting the ride cycle.

Edited by EastCoastn07
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope that this doesn't give the park a bad reputation after all of this is cleared up. The coaster has had a few incidents already. I can only imagine what precautions and things they are doing while the park is closed if it was human or a malfunction error. Oh, technology and people! The sad thing is that these roller coaster crashes or malfunctions are always exploded in the media so it just makes common person so much more worried when they don't realize driving to the park is more dangerous than riding a roller coaster. Hope everything gets fixed soon and it looks like Alton is taking extra caution with this... All we can do is wait.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The HSE (Health and safety executive) have released a statement today with regards to their on going investigation.

 

Neil Craig, head of operations for HSE in the Midlands, said:

 

“This was a major incident and members of the public have suffered serious injuries. It meets the criteria for an HSE investigation and our inspectors were at Alton Towers yesterday to begin making inquiries.

 

“We have assembled a team of specialist inspectors and technical investigators and they will be on site today to continue our investigation.

 

“Our role is to establish the facts. We will want to determine that those responsible for operating this ride have done what the law requires. We will also ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned they are shared as soon as possible.

 

“Although the investigation is in its early stages, we will take action to protect the public if we uncover evidence that could affect the safety of other rides at the park or elsewhere.”

Link: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/statement-hses-investigation-into-the-incident-at-alton-towers/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the article it said that the operators have "done what the law requires" so it doesn't sound like human error. I could be wrong though.

 

If you look they said:

“Our role is to establish the facts. We will want to determine that those responsible for operating this ride have done what the law requires. We will also ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned they are shared as soon as possible.

 

So they haven't said anything yet and they most likely won't for some time. Investigations like this take a long long time and it will be many months before they released the document with the full results I believe.

Edited by StealthFan
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use https://themeparkreview.com/forum/topic/116-terms-of-service-please-read/