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Alton Towers Discussion Thread


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This is not getting "scrapped." Period. That is tabloid fodder. As bad as it sounds, I hope it was human - fallable - error. I don't want the computer system to be at fault. That would be more devastating to the industry.

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Aside from the huge initial investment Alton Towers would be losing if they removed the ride, they would also likely have years and years worth of legal fees to contend with fighting with their insurance company and Gerstauler to try and recoup their money.

 

One accident, no matter how bad, doesn't warrant the ride being removed. As Robb has said numerous times, there is no precedent for it.

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I agree with that one accident does not warrant removing a ride. The only times I know of a ride getting removed where when there were major flaws in the design of the ride or acts of nature that caused maintenance cost nightmares or major stresses on the ride structure itself that were either too cost prohibitive or impossible to correct. (e.g. The Bat [the original], SOB, and dare I say it Horizons at Epcot).

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According to the report on The Telegraph, the park’s management is said to be considering “scrapping” the troubled coaster following the incident.

 

Go read the article which has a link some pages back. There's not a crumb of evidence to back up that sensationalist headline.

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They won't get rid of the ride, yes this accident is terrible for, the park, ride and ultimately the victims. But The Smiler is such a big investment for the park to simply decide to remove their, record holding ride when they can improve the system and put in precautions to prevent this from happening again. This incident is going to be remembered but it's not going to ruin the ride in the sense of people wanting to ride it. Look at mind bender at galaxy land, that killed three people and still runs. Hydro in oakwood launched a person which resulted in death, that's still running. Thunder mountain cali, killed a person, Thunder mountain Paris had scenery fall and injure 5 people, one seriously. All these rides still operate, now if The Smiler had a chain of events to the same level of this one then I could see them getting rid of it, but seeing that this is an isolated event (hopefully) it's hear to stay.

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The empty train was already valleyed on the batwing before the full train was released.

 

Thanks, I found a news article where somebody who was on it and seems to confirm this. Kind of chilling.

 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/alton-towers-rollercoaster-crash-passenger-5824114

 

Is it just me or is anyone else suspicious of this person contacting the Mirror about his story but "not wanting to be named"?

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The empty train was already valleyed on the batwing before the full train was released.

 

Thanks, I found a news article where somebody who was on it and seems to confirm this. Kind of chilling.

 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/alton-towers-rollercoaster-crash-passenger-5824114

 

Is it just me or is anyone else suspicious of this person contacting the Mirror about his story but "not wanting to be named"?

 

Maybe, but maybe just doesn't want loads of attention and other journalist bothering him all the time. I think i'd probably be the same.

 

^ maybe. For those who have been on it, is it possible he could have seen the other train from the lift hill?

 

Although the lift hill is facing in the opposite direction I suppose it may be possible to turn your head to see around the head rest to see the batwing.

 

You can see here,

 

1102212273_smilertop.thumb.jpg.d7520d4e21c6af698b3eac11532e17ef.jpg

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^For me the quote seems a little confused

 

“After we got on everyone saw the empty carriage at the bottom of one of the loops but as we got to the top it looked like we were not going to stop.

 

“It was going for no more than three minutes before the accident but everyone was shouting and swearing before we went down.

 

"My mind went completely blank when I saw it was going to crash.

 

It doesn't say where the 'top' is, to me it sounds like they saw it stuck at the 'bottom' as they got to the 'top' (of the loop) they werent going to stop. He doesn't mention stopping on the lift hill, seeing the car, then the ride restarting.

 

Regarding screaming at staff to stop the ride - you and I you might realise this is pointless at the top of the loops, but in my experience, a lot of people don't realise coasters can't just stop at any time - they think the cars have brakes on.

 

The whole thing could just be fabricated by an individual or the paper itself. Theres no factual evidence for it anyway.

Edited by Purplepills
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^ Yeah, Ring Racer was also a very different set of circumstances. I'm talking about a ride that opened, took thousands upon thousands of riders, had an accident, and then the park removed the ride completely. It's a cut and dry scenario and I don't think there is one. The fact that we are even discussing this means we've reached a point in this discussion where there isn't much to talk about until some new data surfaces.

 

Closest thing I can think of is Fujin Raijin II / Expoland.

 

Coaster had accident, whole park closed, park reopened but coaster stayed closed, then at the end of the season the whole park closed for good.

 

Still not completely cut and dry as other factors were involved, but if the accident had never occurred I believe the park and coaster would still be operating today.

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^For me the quote seems a little confused

 

“After we got on everyone saw the empty carriage at the bottom of one of the loops but as we got to the top it looked like we were not going to stop.

 

“It was going for no more than three minutes before the accident but everyone was shouting and swearing before we went down.

 

"My mind went completely blank when I saw it was going to crash.

 

It doesn't say where the 'top' is, to me it sounds like they saw it stuck at the 'bottom' as they got to the 'top' (of the loop) they werent going to stop. He doesn't mention stopping on the lift hill, seeing the car, then the ride restarting.

 

Regarding screaming at staff to stop the ride - you and I you might realise this is pointless at the top of the loops, but in my experience, a lot of people don't realise coasters can't just stop at any time - they think the cars have brakes on.

 

The whole thing could just be fabricated by an individual or the paper itself. Theres no factual evidence for it anyway.

 

I think by "top" he means top of the lift hill. I'm sure everyone would have been shouting at them to stop the ride when they saw a train going up the lift hill knowing that another train had valleyed and that train was going to crash into it. I think a lot of people must assume that the trains have brakes on, people were shouting for them to stop the ride when it was rocking back and forward at the bottom of the batwing, although we know they can't do that, they just have to let gravity do it's thing.

 

We know the train was stopped at the top of the lift hill, like has been said, the question now is how and why it was allowed to leave the lift hill and carry on into an occupied block.

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^This is why I wondered what he meant by 'top'. He's mentioned getting on, seeing the train, and looking like 'we were not going to stop'. As opposed to 'Getting on, stopping at the top, and then starting again'. I guess its hard to tell also if its been edited in any way.

 

All too often though what people think happened in these situations is different than actual events. I know this from witnessing auto accidents, what I thought happened wasn't actually what did happen. Its easy to confuse things.

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According to BBC News TV today, Merlin are also closing SAW at Thorpe Park, and Dragons Fury and The Rattlesnake at Chessington today until further notice until new safety protocols are put in place.

 

From ITV News:

 

LINK

 

Four rides at three parks to remain closed following Smiler crash

 

Alton Towers park is expected to reopen 'in the next few days' following Tuesday's accident, a statement from owners Merlin Entertainments said.

 

They added the rides Smiler at Alton Towers; Saw at Thorpe Park and both Dragon's Fury and Rattlesnake at Chessington World of Adventures would remain closed for the foreseeable future after new safety protocols were issued.

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Although the lift hill is facing in the opposite direction I suppose it may be possible to turn your head to see around the head rest to see the batwing.

 

Having been stuck on the Smiler lift hill before (not for an extended period granted) - looking behind to the rest of the track from the lift hill is pretty difficult, I couldn't manage, the restraints are too tight, unless you do an Exorcist. If you've got 15 minutes on your hands up there though you might be a bit more inclined to try harder to look and see what's going on. And the station is completely enclosed for about 15 minutes queue-time before you get to the gates, so I can't imagine you'd see it from the station

 

To be honest... thinking back to when I last rode it, it's so fast paced and with so many things going on visually and physically, I really struggle to think I'd see the empty carriage where it was until moments before going into it. The coaster is really densely packed into the pit with black (and some yellow) everywhere.

 

Actually... that's a point, having another think, I seem to remember there being trim brakes on a little bunny hop hill just before the batwing, around about here (circled in red, original SW7 plans):

sw7planoverview.png.7a7abdcf46a04fa1a84e21cd441be5de.png

side-elevation.thumb.png.afcacdf7f9ddedf76ffa82211a5584f8.png

 

Am I imagining that or are they indeed there? You can see them at 1:13 on

- but I can't quite make out if they're trim brakes or just sensors... I can see what I think look like brake fins. Not sure if they're static or movable but if movable I'd be curious to know if they were deployed and if that helped reduce the speed and the impact...

 

According to BBC News TV today, Merlin are also closing SAW at Thorpe Park, and Dragons Fury and The Rattlesnake at Chessington today until further notice until new safety protocols are put in place.

Ahhhh no (although SAW just needs to be closed in general TBH - me and my wife agreed on that yesterday, if you need to give out headache pills in the gift shop then you probably know how the quality of the ride is)

 

I'm trying to think what the link is between these coasters? it's obviously not Gerstlauer

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Merlin statement released today - 5th June

 

LINK

 

 

5 June 2015

Merlin Entertainments

Since the accident at Alton Towers Resort on Tuesday afternoon Merlin Entertainments has been engaged in a thorough review and investigation of the events that led up to the incident and of its safety and operating processes. The investigation is ongoing and we are co-operating fully with the Health & Safety Executive.

The safety of our visitors is our fundamental priority. We have a strong safety record at Alton Towers and across the Merlin Group. Today we are enhancing our safety standards by issuing an additional set of safety protocols and procedures that will reinforce the safe operation of our multi-car rollercoasters. These are effective immediately.

 

Each rollercoaster has its own individual operating process and characteristics. Our central safety management team, together with local Park operations, will now work to implement and brief operating staff on these protocols. As a consequence, two rollercoaster rides have been withdrawn from service until the new safety protocols have been applied.

 

The Smiler and Saw, a similar ride at Thorpe Park, have been closed since the accident and will stay closed for the foreseeable future. We intend to complete our thorough appraisal of our safety processes at Alton Towers in the near future and plan to re-open the Park to the public in the next few days.

 

Nick Varney, Chief Executive of Merlin Entertainments, said:

“This has been a terrible experience for everyone involved and one we sincerely regret. Our thoughts remain with those who were seriously injured and we are doing everything we can to support them through this difficult time. It is an accident that should not have happened, and we are determined that it will never happen again.

“Whilst the investigation into the causes is continuing, we have identified a series of additional safety protocols that we are implementing immediately across our multi-car rollercoasters. These will act as an additional safeguard to further strengthen our operating and safety standards. This has been a devastating experience, and we are committed to learning the lessons from it.”

 

The rides withdrawn from service are:

Dragon’s Fury (Chessington World of Adventures)

Rattlesnake (Chessington World of Adventures)

http://www.merlinentertainments.biz/

 

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Am I imagining that or are they indeed there? You can see them at 1:13 on
- but I can't quite make out if they're trim brakes or just sensors... I can see what I think look like brake fins. Not sure if they're static or movable but if movable I'd be curious to know if they were deployed and if that helped reduce the speed and the impact...

Yes, there are trim brakes on both bunny hops. In fact, I believe the cause of the train stalling for the first time in 2013 was due to the trims on the first bunny hop being deployed when the train was travelling too slowly.

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If they are talking about "procedures" would that tend to suggest human error was the cause?

I'd suggest it extends to both human operation and computer workflows, HSE will look at both in concert as is typical for control systems, i.e. a combination of the human procedure and the series of over-rides that made this possible.

 

But yeah, to me fundamentally indicates human error, as everyone here and in the press (at least people who the press found who know how coasters work, not that many it seems!) have maintained, the control systems under any normal passenger operating modes simply wouldn't allow this, even in a fault state, unless very deliberately overridden

 

Yes, there are trim brakes on both bunny hops. In fact, I believe the cause of the train stalling for the first time in 2013 was due to the trims on the first bunny hop being deployed when the train was travelling too slowly.

 

Ahhhh, interesting! Certainly explains that

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If they are talking about "procedures" would that tend to suggest human error was the cause?

I'd suggest it extends to both human operation and computer workflows, HSE will look at both in concert as is typical for control systems, i.e. a combination of the human procedure and the series of over-rides that made this possible.

 

But yeah, to me fundamentally indicates human error, as everyone here and in the press (at least people who the press found who know how coasters work, not that many it seems!) have maintained, the control systems under any normal passenger operating modes simply wouldn't allow this, even in a fault state, unless very deliberately overridden

 

Agreeing with the above, it would mean a fundamental review of every mistake made that day to make sure it can't happen again. Its my personal view that this wasn't a single error, there were several failures leading to this.

 

On the day of the accident, immediately there were reports that people had told the staff on the line entrance who didn't seem to react to it (I'm not talking about the guy claiming he was told it was none of his business). The fact the car was sent on (by human means or otherwise) was one thing, but the main thing here for me is the length of time the empty car was stranded (seems between 5 and 15 minutes), and the lack of communication that led to the second car being allowed to continue. Surely if there is a car stopped on the track, ANY member of staff should report this and the ride should be e-stopped? Nobody asides HSE & Merlin have this information currently, this could of course have been reported to the booth and just somehow lost in translation, its just an example really.

 

Also the handling of the aftermath, its been reported it took so many minutes to call and ambulance, fire crew etc. I would imagine this would also form part of the procedure review if they feel this wasn't an appropriate response. More staff training to deal with incidents perhaps? Who knows.

 

They may have found other areas of failure, which I guess forms the procedures which will need to be written and approved before the park can open.

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Merlin have issues the following statement on their website, which indicates that Dragon's Fury and Rattlesnake at Chessington World of Adventures are closed whilst staff are retrained and informed of the new protocols.

 

Since the accident at Alton Towers Resort on Tuesday afternoon Merlin Entertainments has been engaged in a thorough review and investigation of the events that led up to the incident and of its safety and operating processes. The investigation is ongoing and we are co-operating fully with the Health & Safety Executive.

 

The safety of our visitors is our fundamental priority. We have a strong safety record at Alton Towers and across the Merlin Group. Today we are enhancing our safety standards by issuing an additional set of safety protocols and procedures that will reinforce the safe operation of our multi-car rollercoasters. These are effective immediately.

 

Each rollercoaster has its own individual operating process and characteristics. Our central safety management team, together with local Park operations, will now work to implement and brief operating staff on these protocols. As a consequence, two rollercoaster rides have been withdrawn from service until the new safety protocols have been applied.

 

The Smiler and Saw, a similar ride at Thorpe Park, have been closed since the accident and will stay closed for the foreseeable future. We intend to complete our thorough appraisal of our safety processes at Alton Towers in the near future and plan to re-open the Park to the public in the next few days.

 

Also the Health & Safety Executive have issued the following statement, explaining that they will be removing the two trains involved to carry out further analysis at their lab. Unsurprisingly, The Smiler is not allowed to operate until the investigation is complete and a resolution has been implemented. It doesn't seem there will be any significant impact on the park's other rides, and it is now up to the resort/Merlin to decide when to reopen.

 

HSE will today remove the carriages involved in the incident on ‘The Smiler’ rollercoaster on 2 June and transport them to the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton for further analysis.

 

The investigation into the incident continues and HSE inspectors remain on site. They have served a Prohibition notice on the rollercoaster stopping its use until action is taken to deal with the cause of the failure.

 

Neil Craig, Head of Operations for HSE in the Midlands said:

 

“The Notice is specific to the ‘Smiler’ ride and does not affect other rides at the park. HSE expects the park operator to apply any early learning from the incident to wider risk management at the site.

 

“The decision about when to re-open the Park is for the owners to make.”

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^Well its good news that the park has been given the go ahead to open by the HSE, and Merlin hope to open in the next few days. Hopefully people won't be put off going to the park too much, and things can get back to relative normality soon for everyone there.

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HSE will today remove the carriages involved in the incident on ‘The Smiler’ rollercoaster on 2 June and transport them to the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton for further analysis.

 

...

 

“The Notice is specific to the ‘Smiler’ ride and does not affect other rides at the park. HSE expects the park operator to apply any early learning from the incident to wider risk management at the site.

 

“The decision about when to re-open the Park is for the owners to make.”

 

Interesting that HSE specifically called out the fact that they are handing overall park control back to Merlin/AT, so the ball is now in their court, that pre-emptively answers that question! The prohibition notice on the Smiler is of course not surprising at all, I expect AT will just close off X-Sector when they re-open to avoid people trying to dig around, the footfall loss to Enterprise and Oblivion will be fairly minimal, plenty of other things to go for (personally I'd happily just ride Nemesis and Air all day, my last few visits I usually just rode Smiler a couple of times in the morning pre-opening before the massive crowds arrived then went off to other coasters for the rest of the day, there's enough capacity)

 

Also, with taking the carriages back to the lab, I can only assume that is looking at the crash-worthyness of them, which I still maintain (having ridden, looked at the crash pictures and re-looked at pictures of the trains when they were first loaded onto the tracks) isn't particularly great, but I suppose there's always going to be a reasonable limit with coaster trains which are surrounded by control systems designed to keep them far apart

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