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Alton Towers conclude crash was caused by human error. Announced ride will re-open in 2016.

 

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Human error caused the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash in June that seriously injured five people, the Staffordshire theme park has said.

 

Two women - Victoria Balch and Leah Washington - had legs amputated after the Smiler ride hit an empty carriage in front of it on 2 June.

Staff misunderstood a shutdown message and wrongly restarted the ride, an investigation by the park confirmed.

No technical or mechanical issues were found with the ride itself.

 

The ride, which has been closed since the crash, will reopen next year with improved safety measures.

"A ride shutdown message was misunderstood by staff at the ride," an Alton Towers spokeswoman said.

 

"This led to a decision to manually restart the ride, overriding the control system without appropriate safety protocols being followed correctly."

 

A total of 16 people were injured when the carriage they were in collided with an empty one that had come to a halt ahead of them.

Merlin Entertainment, which owns Alton Towers, previously said all 16 would receive compensation.

 

Crash errors

 

Four people sat in the front row were among those most seriously hurt.

 

Ms Balch, 20, from Lancashire, had six rounds of surgery in a bid to save her leg before needing an amputation.

 

Ms Washington, 17, from Barnsley, also had one of her legs amputated and her 18-year-old boyfriend Joe Pugh shattered his knees.

 

Daniel Thorpe, 27, from Buxton in Derbyshire, was treated for a collapsed lung and lower leg injuries.

 

Another passenger Chanda Chauhan, 49, from Wednesbury, had surgery after suffering internal injuries.

 

The Health and Safety Executive said its own investigation was "still ongoing".

Alton Towers said it had followed "standard HR procedures and taken the appropriate action" when dealing with the staff whose errors caused the crash.

 

A spokeswoman said: "The outcome of this however remains a private matter between us and any individual concerned."

Merlin Entertainments saw like-for-live revenues fall by 11.4% across its theme park division over the first nine months of its financial year after seeing "significantly" lower numbers of visitors to Alton Towers.

 

The company said earlier this month that it would be carrying out "a restructuring" of the business leading to the loss of up to 190 jobs.

 

When the Smiler reopens next year, it will feature an additional level of authorisation so no manual override can happen without a senior member of staff, the theme park said.

 

"We are confident that lessons have been learned and that appropriate action has been taken to address all the issues raised by our investigation."

Edited by eddytheviper
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So what do we make of this? As well as the postponed 'World of David Walliams' featuring 'Gangsta Granny: The Ride' opening this season, Alton Towers have rented three classic fairground rides they ar

I mean, at least Merlin is finally using their bizarre ass marketing for something that kind of works?!!? I get that it's a bunch of temporary carnival rides but at this point I'll take it!

I think they're trying to make the best out of a bad situation - partly of their own doing as they seem to have got rid of all their support rides. The choice of rides seems pretty crappy so well done

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It'd been rumored to be human error for a very long time, nice to see it finally confirmed.

 

Some extra info:

 

An investigation by the theme park Alton Towers says the crash on the Smiler ride in June happened after the safety system was manually overridden.

 

The company, from its own investigations, found there were no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself.

 

Alton Towers says it has since improved safety measures with:

 

- Additional CCTV cameras

 

- Additional manual reset buttons around the track

 

- An "extensive" set of new safety measures

 

- Enhanced training

 

The Health and Safety Executive is continuing with its on-going investigation.

 

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Alton Towers conclude crash was caused by human error. Announced ride will re-open in 2016.

 

No surprise there. I think we all knew this was the cause, we were just waiting for it to be officially announced after the investigation. My heart still goes out to those who were injured in what was 100% preventable.

 

However, I'm glad to hear the ride will be back up and running in 2016.

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It's good that the findings are officially out in the open now.

 

What has surprised me a little is the amount of people I've seen blaming Alton Towers for using this as a 'scapegoat' exercise, trying to deflect the blame onto the staff involved. If somebody goes against set safety protocols, who else can be to blame? Yes the ride technical safety systems were obviously not full proof in that the accident did happen, but if the protocols had been followed correctly it would not have.

 

It's an awful incident, but at least Alton Towers/Merlin have always taken full responsibility for it throughout, something which doesn't generally happen until the outcome of an investigation. Hopefully now this is out in the open, the park can try to get back to normal, although if the recent rumours are true I think it might be a long time until that happens.

 

With regards to the rumoured closures, it would seem weird to me for them to do this, at a time when they should be re-building confidence, they should be throwing money at the problem to reinvigorate the park and enticing those visitors that have stayed away since the incident. Yes profit margin-wise it won't be good, especially on top of the losses already reported, but in this case I think they need to take the hit as they are in danger of losing their footing in the UK market, if they continue as they are.

 

I guess realistically though we won't be able to tell the full extent of the problems until The Smiler is back open, perhaps the public will start returning once it is back up an running and people are riding it again.

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I'm we finally have official confirmation now, I was sure it would reopen, but if anything this is as much for the "General Public" who haven't followed all the little changes made on the ride throughout the season and seen the testing as much as it is reassurance to the enthusiasts. I'm very excited about riding again in 2016.

 

I personally believe Merlin so far have handled the incident very well and have been very sensible. Whilst it's sad to see they've had to make job cuts, it could have been a much bigger effect on the park in my opinion, especially with the barrage of hate negative articles from the media. I hope the people unemployed find jobs again soon too.

 

I hope the 2016 season is better than the 2015 one, and I have high hopes (I'm staying positive for the meantime) about Air V2/Galatica!

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I hope the 2016 season is better than the 2015 one, and I have high hopes (I'm staying positive for the meantime) about Air V2/Galatica!

 

I wonder what this could be. My completely wild, moonshot guess (same guess as for Hulk v2.0) is they're somehow incorporating VR onto the ride. I don't know that Alton would just wing it and go the Six Flags route (new coat of paint, slap speakers onto the trains, throw in some fire) and marketing it as something new. On the other hand, they're no stranger to questionable marketing, either.

 

 

Whatever it is, there aren't too many ways you could actually make a B&M Flyer more meh. Ideally, they'd rip it out and build a Nemesis clone in it's place, because two is better than one.

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When I first heard rumours about Alton adding VR to Air earlier this year, I was ready to rip Merlin to shreds about what a horrific idea it was. But having time to think about it, it could be fun if done well and operated efficiently.

 

So now I am reserving judgement until I have ridden it and tried it for myself (if it's true). Also, I have heard really good reports from Europa Park and also the trial on Freedom Flyer.

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^^^I'd expect it to be the second option you mentioned there, not even sure they'll re paint it. I am interested in it being a VR coaster though, anything to make Air a better coaster. Towers have also announced that over the next three years they'll be introducing a scheme named 'Towers Loving Care' that should mean improvements to the look of things as well as new attractions. It's needed if you look at pictures of Octonauts Coaster on Towers Streets Facebook, which was only added this year and is not looking too good already.

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I'm interested in the VR thing, I mean assuming its an option, can it make a ride worse than not having it at all? With Merlin style OTT hype advertising it should bring extra visitors in which is what the place needs next season.

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I think VR is a pretty interesting concept, and I wouldn't be against it on Air because it's not like the view is that amazing with it being mainly gravel, sky and the corrugated roof on the train storage building. I think long term VR will be bit of a fad, but it's certainly something I'm looking forward to trying, whether on Air or elsewhere

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What would be really interesting with VR would be randomized scenes, in a similar fashion to Star Tours where you don't know which scenes you're going to get on your ride. That could really add some fun to the ride!

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I was actually thinking that they might plan to move it to Thorpe park, next to the SAW The ride and bring the samorai there instead? Maybe, they plan to make SAW themed area in Thorpe park, which would make sense imho?

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^ Hasn't Samurai been seeing a fair bit of down-time this year? When it was relocated the 1st time it was a lot younger in terms of it's operational life span. I just can't see the two parks swapping rides when both must be soon hitting the point where maintenance isn't worth keeping them around.

Edited by Garet
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^Samurai has seen lots of downtime this year, you're right. With it's age, Ripsaw really isn't being relocated, it'll be scrapped.

 

I don't understand why merlin would scrap Ripsaw considering that unless they maintained it horribly, it should be in great condition.

They could just sell it to another park that isn't merlin.

But i don't get the point of scrapping it.

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I don't understand why merlin would scrap Ripsaw considering that unless they maintained it horribly, it should be in great condition.

But keeping it in "great condition" comes at what cost? Ripsaw could have been a money pit for the park, and they likely decided that the cost to maintain it was too much to justify keeping it going.

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Huss Top Spins don't have as long of a life span as other flat rides do. A lot of them actually have problems that you don't necessarily hear about, but plague the rides and cost parks a lot of money. These include but are not limited to; foundational/structural cracking, faulty air valves, and many parts that wear out (bearings, electrical circuits, etc).

 

Ripsaw, being nearly 20 years old, had a pretty long life for a Top Spin. I don't disagree with the parks decision to remove the ride as cool as it was, but I disagree with removing things without a replacement ready. How can the park remove so many rides so quickly without replacements and expect to do better with attendance? It's even worse that they are flat/family rides which they don't have a lot of to begin with.

 

If Blade is removed as well soon, the only two flats remaining at the park would be Toadstool and the Enterprise (which is another older flat that could end up being removed).

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How can the park remove so many rides so quickly without replacements and expect to do better with attendance? It's even worse that they are flat/family rides which they don't have a lot of to begin with.

 

That reminds me what did they do with Submissions spot when they closed the ride? I always preferred Energizer over Submission (that ride was so uncomfy) although it always seemed tamer once it became Boneshaker.

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How can the park remove so many rides so quickly without replacements and expect to do better with attendance? It's even worse that they are flat/family rides which they don't have a lot of to begin with.

 

That reminds me what did they do with Submissions spot when they closed the ride? I always preferred Energizer over Submission (that ride was so uncomfy) although it always seemed tamer once it became Boneshaker.

 

 

All the smaller holes were filled in and the larger concrete foundation was just filled in and a patch of grass laid on top. So not much.

 

Yes, Energizer was a much better ride. Wish one of those would return.

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I don't understand why merlin would scrap Ripsaw considering that unless they maintained it horribly, it should be in great condition.

But keeping it in "great condition" comes at what cost? Ripsaw could have been a money pit for the park, and they likely decided that the cost to maintain it was too much to justify keeping it going.

 

I meant it in the sense of why scrap it when it's still young enough to sell?

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^The same question could be posed for why Disney didn't sell the Maliboomer from Disney California Adventure when it was removed as a part of the re-imagining of that park. The ride was in prime condition as held to Disney standards, but it was never offered up for sale to other parks, it was simply scrapped. Some parks just don't care to bother.

 

I wouldn't put it past Alton Towers to do the same if they really didn't care to try and sell it or relocate it.

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