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Alton Towers Discussion Thread


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That news reporter really shouldn't have a job. Varney clearly is stating that the ride was definitely safe before the accident, but a unique set of circumstances lead to the accident. Plus, some new safety protocols will be added to ensure that an accident like this will not happen again. If people should get mad at anyone, it should be whomever was operating the ride, considering this of course was human error. There is no reason to have the ride in maintenance mode if people were aboard. Plus, the batwing and trains should have been monitored before moving anything.

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The BBC news just showed an airel shot with the two cars now separated and it looked the front car's bar had concaved into a v shape which seemed to go quite far in.

Yeah I suspect that will be the protuding bump stop from the back of the car in front piling into (or really being piled into by) the middle of the car behind... I did have a worry that might happen - really not designed for high speed impacts at all

 

So actually, the little bump stop possibly made the accident worse by focussing the energy on that single point and caving the bar in, rather than if it was flat and spread the energy over a large surface area (could've still reduced the energy slightly being made of rubber though). Hrm...

 

This is what I thought when I Googled the Smiler cars just after the accident. You could see the front was at quite angle in a couple of the accident photos. Given the back has a massive stop on as below, its unfortunate that its caved the front of the second train in rather than the back of the stationary one.

 

 

 

I wouldn't be at all surprised if The HSE suggest/insist the design is changed - after all, if it was a different design the injuries sustained could've been reduced hugely. I know the design wasn't supposed to withstand this amount of impact, sadly now it has happened they may insist further precautions are taken.

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^Typical news anchor journalism! It never makes them look good, but hammering people with questions like that is what they're paid to do. Its getting everyone watching clips from Sky news isn't it?

 

In addition to the image earlier, heres a slightly different angle...worse than I thought...

smiler.png.048cadb413ea31f17119b03858ead63c.png

BBC news screengrab

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She went way overboard on the "gotcha" stuff. I felt like I was watching the British equivalent of Bill O'Reilly.

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For the theoretical cause discussion:

 

Human error accidents with complex automated systems tend to have a chain of multiple small issues leading to a mistake. Speaking as another person with manual mode experience on block-heavy coasters, I agree with the others on the block-reset theory. Here's a little scenario that could explain how this regular procedure, given several smaller mishaps combining, could've led to the crash.

 

1). Imagine an unlikely and probably insignificant event added into the mix: Management override. The ride was down before, and maybe someone in an authority position decided to gently violate policy and not evacuate the lift while resetting. Automatic emergency stop due to a timeout at the post-batwing block? Well, it's windy, guess it just took its sweet time getting there (but it's not there!). Maybe it's common to have block timeouts with empty trains on a windy day; I can think of another ride that certainly did. Consider the possibility that a new, frustrated, overbearing manager unfamiliar with Smiler could demand a seemingly minor deviation from procedure, and that inexperienced and/or trusting operators (I'm assuming maintenance rather than ops, but it could be ops at some parks) submit to this authority and proceed.

 

2.) Figure (combined with a break from policy) the coaster has been reset moving backwards but not quite to the first lift. In most cases, a train stopped on the track is not going to flag a sensor, and PLC's generally forget everything about block occupation when reset. Alton Towers also loves lift stops, or at least has in the past. Camera out? Lift stop. Something wacky? Lift stop. I would bet most AT operations folks see a train stopped on a lift and assume that's the deal, rather than a more significant downtime.

 

Imagine maintenance responder Ringo needs his lunch break, and Paul shows up to take over. "'Ello govnah, well, you can see where we're at," says Ringo has he leaves. Paul doesn't look at the PLC printout to see that the coaster went down for a possible valleyed train, he just sees the lift stop. It seems ridiculous that there wouldn't be thorough information handoff, but people in routines have caused ship/plane/industrial accidents many times by not passing along information.

 

Maintenance guy Paul then resets the lift, placing it in motion and causing the crash.

 

 

It really is impossible to crash things (outside true full manual mode) if all procedures are air-tight and they are perfectly followed. Considering the Saw closure, it seems possible that there is some rare combination of events in the Gerstlauer ride systems that could potentially lead to this tragedy during normal procedures. However, I bet when the report comes out, what seems like one big human error moment is going to be a string of several small ones. Everyone in a fail-safe level job should remember that and speak up when something small happens. Five 1% chances of 1/5th a disaster will line up eventually.

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Kay Burley is well known as being a rude and disrespectful interviewer, It's just her style I guess. God knows why Sky News continue to employ her. If you search her name on youtube there are many more examples if her being downright rude in interviews.

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For the theoretical cause discussion:

 

1). Imagine an unlikely and probably insignificant event added into the mix: Management override. The ride was down before, and maybe someone in an authority position decided to gently violate policy and not evacuate the lift while resetting. Automatic emergency stop due to a timeout at the post-batwing block? Well, it's windy, guess it just took its sweet time getting there (but it's not there!). Maybe it's common to have block timeouts with empty trains on a windy day; I can think of another ride that certainly did. Consider the possibility that a new, frustrated, overbearing manager unfamiliar with Smiler could demand a seemingly minor deviation from procedure, and that inexperienced and/or trusting operators (I'm assuming maintenance rather than ops, but it could be ops at some parks) submit to this authority and proceed.

 

2.) Figure (combined with a break from policy) the coaster has been reset moving backwards but not quite to the first lift. In most cases, a train stopped on the track is not going to flag a sensor, and PLC's generally forget everything about block occupation when reset. Alton Towers also loves lift stops, or at least has in the past. Camera out? Lift stop. Something wacky? Lift stop. I would bet most AT operations folks see a train stopped on a lift and assume that's the deal, rather than a more significant downtime.

 

Imagine maintenance responder Ringo needs his lunch break, and Paul shows up to take over. "'Ello govnah, well, you can see where we're at," says Ringo has he leaves. Paul doesn't look at the PLC printout to see that the coaster went down for a possible valleyed train, he just sees the lift stop. It seems ridiculous that there wouldn't be thorough information handoff, but people in routines have caused ship/plane/industrial accidents many times by not passing along information.

 

Maintenance guy Paul then resets the lift, placing it in motion and causing the crash.

 

A reasonable scenario, but I think the more likely (based on reports) is that Ringo is frustrated because this is the fourth time today the attraction has had issues and he's been called to fix it. The three times before were due to a misbehaving sensor. So, in order to speed things along, and get it running again as quickly as possible, he assumes that it's the same issue as before, skips all the formalities and checks and just does a reset and releases the train while in Manual mode. All speculation of course, but probably closer to reality, just because of human nature.

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I forced myself to watch the entire interview and I have to applaud Nick Varney for the way he handled it. The digusting Kay Burley did everything she could to get a negative reaction and failed. Now I have to take another shower.

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Holy crap that reporter knows literally nothing about the amusement industry or how rides work. A part of me wishes he blew up on her, showed her why the rides are safe, then dropped the mic and walked out. But he wouldn't be gaining the respect he has by doing something like what I just described. Awesome job Nick, you are awesome!

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The first train that valleyed was a test cycle, correct? Then the second was loaded while the test cycle was mid course? If so that seems like the worst mistake that was made (IMO). The purpose of test cycles is to make sure that the ride is operating correctly both mechanically and electrically, and will return to the station safely. But that was ignored, and the second train was dispatched before proving that everything was in proper working order and that the weather wasn't too severe to run in. Had the second train also been empty most of this wouldn't have happened. There wouldn't have be four guests in the hospital in pain right now. Just two damaged trains. Which sucks for a park, it's potentially lost revenue as a star attraction is closed, it's more lines at other attractions, and it's expensive and slow to get repaired. But it won't harm people and I can assure you the park is going to make damn sure it never happens again.

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The first train that valleyed was a test cycle, correct? Then the second was loaded while the test cycle was mid course? If so that seems like the worst mistake that was made (IMO). The purpose of test cycles is to make sure that the ride is operating correctly both mechanically and electrically, and will return to the station safely. But that was ignored

That's not entirely correct. You don't know how many test cycles they did before that last empty one. I've been at rides where they've sent out a few test cycles, they came back just fine, and then the loaded the next one. Your scenario doesn't actually make any sense UNLESS we find out that the train that valleyed was the ONLY test cycle they sent around, but I'm pretty sure if that was the case, someone would have mentioned that.

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My goodness, that news anchor was out for blood. What could she have possibly gained from berating an amusement park operator of all people?

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My goodness, that news anchor was out for blood. What could she have possibly gained from berating an amusement park operator of all people?

 

Viewers from theme park website users all over the world?

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You know, whenever I think the level of stupid on our forums is getting bad, all one has to do is turn to YouTube to find an entirely new level of stupid that you couldn't even imagine existed...

1599392868_ScreenShot2015-06-05at22_47_19.png.6442209be84c22098d7ec0c2579be96e.png

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Oh man, that was the worst interview i've ever watched. When coming up with these questions why did she choose to ask the same question 6 times instead of perhaps asking him questions about the incident. She accused him of saying the same thing over and over but if you ask the same question, you get the same answer.

 

She makes Nancy Grace look good. Thats really saying something.

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