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Accident at Alton Towers

Dar

Member
The 34 mph bit was in the manual from the start, the Merlin guidelines say "a constant 34 mph" while the Gerst manual makes no mention of "constant", just winds faster the 34 mph.

Four of the engineers had never read the ride's operating manual and two of those hadn't seen the risk assessment for the ride.

The court has heard that the employees weren't at fault, they were following the procedures they had been told about. Those procedures just weren't good enough, and that's Merlin's fault.
 

trav

Member
Robbie said:
Ian said:
Two points raised that attracted my attention (from Daily Mirror updates):

The court head earlier how the ride was operating in 46mph winds - despite guidance saying it should not operate in speeds of 34mph.
Will this have an impact on all coaster operations from now on?
I interpreted that as Gerst covering their backs. I mean, essentially this whole accident happened because the coaster design wasn't good enough - it was pointed out on here that valleys were going to happen before it opened. So I reckon Gerst have added that afterwards to cover up poor performance "oh, sorry, didn't we say...?"
From my experience of working as an operator at a Merlin Park, every single ride that I trained on had a section on when the ride could and couldn't run in the COSWP, including wind speeds. Even on rides that could run in any wind, it would specify that, so I find it highly unlikely that it would have been retroactively added by Gerstlauer.

There also seems to be disconnect between Gerst and Merlin. While the latter have obviously cut corners shouldn't the manufacturer be part of the process of putting systems in place for crashes, evacuation, basic operations? I don't know how it works across the coaster industry but I'd have thought a runthrough of procedures would be standard.
The way it's being phrased sounds more like it was Alton Towers' not fully training their staff. I'm sure Gerstlauer provided all the support that they were contracted to, but Alton Towers evidently did not sufficiently train their staff. I mean, the engineers have said that they thought the ride worked like other rides on park, but make it clear that four engineers working on park that day hadn't even seen the COSWP for The Smiler. This is quite common practice weirdly, I'd regularly have engineers from other rides come over to Samurai when it was broken down and just knock a few things around until it came back on with no real guidance.

Ireeb said:
Also the argument "They couldn't see that the train was stuck there" - they could see that it didn't come back to the station, and it's rather unlikely that it arrived at another station. What I'd like to know is whether the ride actually warned about the winds which were to strong and the operators ignored it or whether there was no clear warning, that would be a fault of Gerstlauer (not completely because even if there is no alarm the wind speed should be checked before starting the operation. But then again they must have known about the winds, or why else should they send out a test carriage?
Merlin have already stated that the train was visibly valley'd through CCTV for around 2 minutes before the block was overriden. I find it very hard to believe that a coaster like The Smiler would not have extensive CCTV covering the whole ride. On top of that, I also find it hard to believe that a modern coaster like The Smiler wouldn't have numerous other ways to detect where the car is. The engineers and ride operator should have immediately been able to tell where the car was, and I really don't understand why them saying that they thought the ride 'malfunctioned' and so overrode it holds any water.

I want to say the blame should go to Merlin for not fully training everyone, but I personally think the fault lies with the individuals who took action without being fully trained rather than waiting for orders from above or someone who was fully trained.
 

Robbie

Active Member
trav said:
I want to say the blame should go to Merlin for not fully training everyone, but I personally think the fault lies with the individuals who took action without being fully trained rather than waiting for orders from above or someone who was fully trained.
The thing that's become clear today is that there was no-one "above" to give orders - apart from park management saying they'd lose bonuses if the ride wasn't restarted. There was no structure for fixing a problem, only getting it going again (and it's unsaid, but that's why they didn't check on the valleyed train - they were so used to problems that just getting it going again was the norm; they'd gone beyond attempting to fix it).

Regarding the wind, Merlin are saying it wasn't the wind which caused the other train to valley. So what was it? There's definitely some buck-passing going on here.
 

TheFlyerMan1

New Member
I dunno, but I'm annoyed at Vicky Balch for saying that the ride should be torn down and the park should close for two reasons.

One is that it wasn't the park's fault, it's the ride ops that weren't keeping track of the ride and the block system, therefore overriding it.

Secondly, she doesn't understand that the ride cost millions and they aren't going to get it removed any time soon.
 

Sandman

Active Member
Ian said:
Does this mean that we'll never see a "mess" of track at a UK park ever again? Every part of a coaster should be accessible for maintenance, inspection and obviously for rare rescue operations, but will this limit design?
My instant thought is of a dystopian theme park world in which all coasters have the same distinct track design and a continuous emergency platform running through the duration of the circuit like a TOGO coaster monstrosity. Will this usher in a new era of post-Smiler regulations, like a theme park 9/11?
 

Sandman

Active Member
TheFlyerMan1 said:
rob666 said:
It was the parks fault, they train the staff and have admitted responsibility from the start.
You can't blame a park for a few people's ignorance.

You can. The company is responsible for all it's employees and their actions when they're at work. If I punch someone at my work or something as equally ridiculous, you can sure as hell expect that not only will I get a bollocking, but so will the company. If Alton Towers and employing people and they aren't running rides properly regardless of training, the axe will still fall on them.
 

nealbie

Well-Known Member
Wow. Just wow. That's so bad. I wouldn't even expect the Sun to post that.

That's on the same level as bad as when the BBC led their Jules Bianchi obituary article with the snuff video of his crash!

What's happened to the BBC recently? Used to be that as long as they weren't reporting about Israel it was good, respectable journalism. But now?
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
^ Every news outlet is posting it, it's just the best ad-free website to show you all. It's released to the media now the trial is in session.
 

Dar

Member
TheFlyerMan1 said:
rob666 said:
It was the parks fault, they train the staff and have admitted responsibility from the start.
You can't blame a park for a few people's ignorance.
As far as the technicians knew, they were adequately trained and did what the company expected them to do. If they'd deviated from established company practice, then it would be their fault. However, because they followed incorrect procedures, the people that designed and instigated those procedures are at fault, i.e. Merlin
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Think it's easy to point fingers at Altons management given they're relatively faceless but the amount of time that passed beforr somebody rang 999 is one of the worat parts of this for me, including all those vultures who got their phones out to film
 

Mysterious Sue

Well-Known Member
So the BBC news on the telly just reported that the crash was described as 'equivalent to a 90mph crash in a family car'. Seeing as how the ride's speed is listed as less than 55mph and one car was stationery, this is a bit of a flimsy comparison. I can only assume it's regarding the amount of injury/damage caused, but still... Not very scientific.
 

peep

Well-Known Member
I feel like the way they're laying the blame on Merlin rather than the engineers/ride ops is more of a financial thing? Means the person blamed is faceless and has the means to throw money at the court case.

Sent from my E6653 using Tapatalk
 

Ian

From CoasterForce
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I'm assuming the ride op who dispatched the train could see the view that is in footage.

If so, after seeing the footage, I think the ride op is squarely to blame. I could see the empty stationary train on the track, why couldn't they? And don't give me any **** about them being "stressed" and "under pressure, or "inadequately trained" to get the ride going again. It is the decent and morally proper thing to check the ride is good to go before every dispatch. It's like waiting at a red light with your eyes shut and driving off because it feels right. I understand that there was miscommunication between the engineers, ops and other staff, which is inexcusable, but the op still should have checked the CCTV and noticed the stalled train before pressing go.

It seems the whole thing was down to a negligent and ignorant culture in Merlin at the time, which I'm confident has now been fully eradicated and they now run a safe, watertight ship.
 

caffeine_demon

Well-Known Member
Mysterious Sue said:
So the BBC news on the telly just reported that the crash was described as 'equivalent to a 90mph crash in a family car'.
These bad analogies are a bit like trying to clean a tiger with an egg sandwich!
 

gavin

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Mysterious Sue said:
So the BBC news on the telly just reported that the crash was described as 'equivalent to a 90mph crash in a family car'.
Maybe someone with a better grasp of physics than me can explain it, but I took it to mean that the crash would be as forceful as a car crashing at that speed, despite it being slower, because of the weight of the trains. I honestly don't know, but would the forces created be about equal?
 

Robbie

Active Member
Mysterious Sue said:
So the BBC news on the telly just reported that the crash was described as 'equivalent to a 90mph crash in a family car'. Seeing as how the ride's speed is listed as less than 55mph and one car was stationery, this is a bit of a flimsy comparison. I can only assume it's regarding the amount of injury/damage caused, but still... Not very scientific.
That's the description given by Steven Flanagan, the Health & Safety expert who has compiled the report for the prosecution. It's not the BBC's description, and I assume he knows what he was talking about.
 

Hixee

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gavin said:
Mysterious Sue said:
So the BBC news on the telly just reported that the crash was described as 'equivalent to a 90mph crash in a family car'.
Maybe someone with a better grasp of physics than me can explain it, but I took it to mean that the crash would be as forceful as a car crashing at that speed, despite it being slower, because of the weight of the trains. I honestly don't know, but would the forces created be about equal?
I think they're talking about the damage to the people. Cars have crumple zones, airbags, lots of car in between you and the object you've hit, etc. The coaster trains have nothing like that, so the severity of the impact would have been much more.

I suppose an analogy might be helpful (or pointless :lol: ). It would be like jumping off a ledge. At ~10ft you'll suffer minor injuries, ~20ft you're going to be starting to get serious injuries. However with an airbag or crash mat, you'd have to jump off a ledge at ~30ft to suffer the same injuries as you did from the 10ft ledge.

At least, I think that's what they're saying the article. It's the only sense I can make of it.
 
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