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Accident at Alton Towers

Mysterious Sue

Strata Poster
Obviously it'll recover but the accident will have a major impact on Merlin. Lets hope it doesn't affect future coaster investments too much!

'James Quinn, the Telegraph's Group Business Editor, has just reported that the Alton Towers crash wiped £161 million off the market value of Merlin by the close of trading. Shares closed down 3.5pc at 444.3p.'
 

TommyAlex

Mega Poster
Wouldn't be suprised if smiler goes now. The image this would create for the park and its previous incidents......don't think it's going to be popular when it reopens.

Hope the people seriously injured are all ok, I imagine it must be terrifying, especially since something like this is so rare.
 

Smithy

Strata Poster
Didn't they have a lowlifter permanently on park in that area after the valleying issues last season?

Wonder if we'll see them add a more permanent platform in that area now, as you find on some Japanese coasters.

As for people expecting it to be ripped out, I really can't see it, re-profiling and maybe the removal of an element or two if possible at the very worst but if they can identify the failure and it's a major one (meaning something that can be fixed and replaced with an increased certainty it will never happen again) then it'll stay.
 

Mysterious Sue

Strata Poster
Yeah, it won't be going any time soon. Better to redesign your ride and make it safe now that you've spent all that cash on it.
 

silenthillXD

Hyper Poster
I personally don't think The Smiler will be leaving any time soon, sure their PR and Marketing department is going to have one hell of a time encouraging people back to ride it. But personally I am more concerned as to what's going on with the injured. I can't even begin to imagine how horrifying it must've been to be on that ride at the time, and I seriously hope they're ok. It's sad to hear they've got leg injuries. Here's hoping it's nothing they can't recover from.

I think over the next few months the ride will be closed, investigations will be conducted and there'll be blame thrown at Alton and Gerst. After this I can certainly see Merlin boycotting Gerst as a manufacturer, if they hadn't all ready.
 

elephant58

Hyper Poster
I was giving my opinion on the ride, my primary belief being that it should be ripped down asap.
Runaway Mine Train had a very similar collision in 2006. So did the Big One in 1994. And the Big Dipper did in 2009 and derailed the following year.

Those coasters all get plenty of guests every year, so they weren't torn down. So why should the Smiler.

^Surely if it was human error, it would be open again within a matter of weeks?
 

silenthillXD

Hyper Poster
elephant58 said:
^Surely if it was human error, it would be open again within a matter of weeks?

Interesting point, but they've got to leave an amount of time to let all the backlash drop off. Also out of respect for the families involved they'd probably leave it a while till it reopened. Also it's dubious as to weather it is human error or not. It sounds pretty complicated so I can honestly see the investigation taking some time.
 

EthC

Mega Poster
I can honestly see this going down the way of six flags and gerst with NTG where merlin will pin the blame on gerstlauer for this happening, I hope this isn't the case but I could see this happen. But most importantly I hope the people on board make a speedy recovery as that is a horrible way to get injured and I just hope its nothing life threatening for them. Preying for speedy recovery!
 

MouseAT

Hyper Poster
This makes me wonder what will happen with all of Gerstlauer's other rides. This is the sort of incident where I'd expect them to shut down all similar rides until they can determine what enabled two trains to be in the same block at the same time, whether or not it was a design flaw, and whether or not any of Gerstlauer's other rides are at risk of running in to the same problem.
 

elephant58

Hyper Poster
If it's Gerstlauer's fault, would Alton get another company (i.e. Intamin), to fix some of Gerstlauer's errors. Or is that unlikely to happen?
 

mouse

Giga Poster
There have been a few issues surrounding The Smiler in the past, such as the wheel incident. Seems to have had more problems than most Gerstlauers, could this be down to the ride itself or Alton's maintenance of it?
I find it very odd how the second car stopped on the lift hill for 10-15 minutes before continuing. Does anyone have an idea as to why this would've happened? Surely the ride ops could've noticed the stalled car during this time...
 

cjbrandy

Hyper Poster
elephant58 said:
If it's Gerstlauer's fault, would Alton get another company (i.e. Intamin), to fix some of Gerstlauer's errors. Or is that unlikely to happen?

No chance since they use different engineering methods and techniques.
 

Ben

CF Legend
cjbrandy said:
JJLehto said:
any chance the ride was just not designed well?

Its very impractical to cram 14 inversions into a tiny area and they barely managed it, the cobra roll is notoriously badly designed with a brutal kink.

I think after this incident, Merlin may think twice about coming up with extremely impractical coaster layouts/ideas to meet worlds first/records.

The fact this has crashed has got literally less than nothing to do with the fact it has 14 hoops.

This is really bad, but the ride will recover. As others have said, RMT, PMBO and Big Dipper have all had similar incidents in this country, and the list goes on and on if you look Worldwide. Even if its ridership halves (it won't - the GP don't put as much emphasis on these things as you think) it will still make sense to keep it.

In a year it'll just be a ride that had an accident once, then in five noone will even remember.
 

MouseAT

Hyper Poster
cjbrandy said:
elephant58 said:
If it's Gerstlauer's fault, would Alton get another company (i.e. Intamin), to fix some of Gerstlauer's errors. Or is that unlikely to happen?
No chance since they use different engineering methods and techniques.
I'll admit it's unlikely, as I doubt many manufacturers would want to open themselves up to liability for work on another manufacturer's ride, but such things aren't entirely unheard of in the industry. We've seen Vekoma make modifications to Arrow rides in the past, and third parties re-tracking, and adding new trains and control systems to older coasters.

I doubt it'll happen as long as Gerstlauer are still in business though. As long as they're around, they'll almost certainly be on the hook for any modifications that are required, and I don't think Alton, Gerstlauer or any other manufacturer would rock the boat unless there's no other choice.
 

TilenB

Strata Poster
I've just heard of this in news. This is horrible, I hope those injured will escape with no permanent injuries... :(
 

CoasterCrazy

Giga Poster
Horrendous...prayers go to everyone involved, including those unfortunate enough to witness it. As has been alluded to earlier, this sounds like a bit of a freak accident - technically this shouldn't happen, but it's just that one in practically infinity chance.

Thank god it could have been worse and wasn't - if this had happened on a larger roller coaster, I dread to imagine the consequences. It does actually highlight something quite interesting: the smiler doesn't seem to have the slight padding (I assume) on the front of its train, typical of B&M, Intamin and many other manufacturers. Take a look at the front of Maverick's train for example, where this is quite a prominent feature:

Maverick4.jpg


Compare this with the Smiler, where this feature seems to be missing:

463803_10151499166703026_1425308122_o.jpg


I've always been under the impression that these are a safety feature to 'cushion any impact', inhibiting damage to the trains or riders, although admittedly there would still be whiplash at the velocities of today's collision. Hopefully the media are making it sound worse than it actually is.

silenthillXD said:
elephant58 said:
^Surely if it was human error, it would be open again within a matter of weeks?

Interesting point, but they've got to leave an amount of time to let all the backlash drop off. Also out of respect for the families involved they'd probably leave it a while till it reopened. Also it's dubious as to weather it is human error or not. It sounds pretty complicated so I can honestly see the investigation taking some time.

All I would say, is that it does sounds a bit dodgy to me. If the ride stalled:
a) the lift would have been completely stopped, or even the train would not be allowed to dispatch.
b)If for some reason, the lift had restarted, the trim brakes on the airtime hills should have kicked in.
c) The train would not have returned to the station...isn't that reason itself?

Also was there any sign of why the train valleyed? Did it bust a wheel or something?

I'm not trying to say this isn't a tragic accident, but it sounds a bit like criminal negligence to me. If the ride did indeed stop a train on the lift, then a manual override should be the only way it would restart.
Or maybe one (it would have to be many, if not all) of the sensors were sending back false information?

I'm sure we'll find out soon, but I can certainly see the investigation taking a while. If it wasn't any of their faults, I do feel for the ride ops and Gertslauer, who let's not forget, have just had their second serious accident in less than a year. The NTAG accident wasn't really anyone's fault, but let's hope there's not a fault with the PLC control system.
 

Smithy

Strata Poster
Good point that, I'd assumed that they had those buffer things on the train and although they wouldn't prevent injuries such as whiplash and the like you'd assume they would prevent the sort of leg injuries and facial injuries that appear to have happened today.
 

Jake

Strata Poster
Ben said:
cjbrandy said:
JJLehto said:
any chance the ride was just not designed well?

Its very impractical to cram 14 inversions into a tiny area and they barely managed it, the cobra roll is notoriously badly designed with a brutal kink.

I think after this incident, Merlin may think twice about coming up with extremely impractical coaster layouts/ideas to meet worlds first/records.

The fact this has crashed has got literally less than nothing to do with the fact it has 14 hoops.

This is really bad, but the ride will recover. As others have said, RMT, PMBO and Big Dipper have all had similar incidents in this country, and the list goes on and on if you look Worldwide. Even if its ridership halves (it won't - the GP don't put as much emphasis on these things as you think) it will still make sense to keep it.

In a year it'll just be a ride that had an accident once, then in five noone will even remember.

Exactly.

Not the first time something like this has happened and won't be the last - this looks pretty bad but it doesn't look like anyone has been spited. Time heals.

Wouldn't have wanted to be in the front - I'm guessing the 4 seriously injured were sat there.


I'm gagging to know how it managed to happen, though.
 

Ian

From CoasterForce
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
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For the last few hours I have been doing media interviews for the BBC, Sky, local radio stations and papers. I don't consider myself a spokesperson for theme parks but if I can get the point across that this is a freak accident and coasters are safe, then I'm glad to do so.

Thankfully nobody has died but perhaps it should lead to an overhaul of the safety procedures. Ie: visual scans like they do in the States, more CCTV, proper testing of the track sensors. There is no such thing as an accident, something or somebody is always to blame. It's too early to speculate what went wrong here but I'd be surprised if it was operator error. All of the big rides are at Merlin parks are operated by thoroughly experienced ops; you don't get a rookie playing with an £18m coaster. If the sensors were faulty, then due to the enclosed station, the ride ops could not do a visual check. Tech (which is what I'm edging towards) or op error, the person who dispatched the second train will be having a sleepless night.
 
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