The Smiler Incident - What Happened

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
As you may have seen, Merlin have today pleaded guilty to Health & Safety breaches relating to the incident on The Smiler last year. A few more details of what happened have come out in court today so I am creating this thread to specifically discuss them.

Please use the Media Coverage of Alton Towers thread if you want to discuss how the media handle things following this. And continue to use the 2016: The Smiler Reopening thread to discuss changes to the ride this year following on from what happened.

Here are some quotes from the HSE prosecutor regarding the incident:
HSE Prosecutor said:
“The Smiler rollercoaster came into operation in 2013 in May and in our schedule ran from then until the time of the accident at the beginning of June 2015 in a way that was not as safe as it should have been.

“The mechanical and computer-related operation of the ride were found to be without any fault at all.

“It was a mechanically sound computer-operated ride which required human intervention at many points during operation.

“There was an absence of a proper settled system for staff to work to in certain situations and one of those was that when one of the up-to-five trains came to a halt around the system in one section there was not a good enough system for staff to interact with that problem and a proper procedure to sort it out.

“The upshot was that on June 2 although the computer-controlled system was correctly showing one of the farthest parts of the ride, the Cobra Loop, there was a stationary train, staff didn’t see it and there wasn’t a system to see it.

“They overrode the computer block on the system and sent the train with some of those sitting here today around the ride.

“As a result those in the train were injured when their train came into collision with the stationary train.

“Those in the front row suffered the greatest physical injuries and were life-changing in many cases.”

So it sounds like Towers had no procedures in place for what to do if a train stalled and no clear way to see if a train had stalled on the batwing.

Of course we already knew about the manual override.

:)
 

Dan

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Photos of the crashed train have also been released

hse_alton_towers_smiler1_web.jpg


hse_alton_towers_smiler3_web.jpg
 

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
I saw those photos, not sure if they're a reconstruction of how the train would have been after impact as the front didn't look as damaged as that in all of the photos/videos that were shown following what happened.

I'd imagine the emergency services had to cut away a fair bit of the trains as part of the rescue operation.

:)
 

Dan

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
I'm pretty sure it isn't a reconstruction as you can see the vehicle being lifted off the ride in a video on the HSE website
3b6dca68ceb6ba2266a6dfcb3be7c45f.jpg
 

Ted

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Kondaa
The pictures showing the damaged train are grim. There's literally no leg room between the middle seats. They were the seats Vicky and Leah were sitting in as well :(
 

TomLad

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis/Dragon Khan
To be honest this really does put the incident into perspective. We all knew it was bad, but I don't think any of the initial images/video made it out to be quite as awful as it actually is! I'm genuinely now amazed that the outcome for all of those on the front row wasn't so much worse.
 

Balb0wa

TS Member
Terrible images, im sure these pictures will have an impact on future carriage designs, ie a lot better crash structure , similar to what cars have.

They say some good comes out of bad things. Lessons will be learnt etc.
 

delta79

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis, Air
Knowing a bit about mechanics of injury, i am suprised that vicky and leah only lost one leg in this crash. It also shows how good the pre hospital care is in the uk.

Sent from my SM-T210 using Tapatalk
 

RoyJess

TS Member
I saw those photos, not sure if they're a reconstruction of how the train would have been after impact as the front didn't look as damaged as that in all of the photos/videos that were shown following what happened.

I'd imagine the emergency services had to cut away a fair bit of the trains as part of the rescue operation.

:)

As reported on the ITV lunch time News apparently those are the actual images of the crashed trains. Also reported that due to the seriousness of the Health and Safety breach, that the case is to be moved to a higher court for sentencing.

http://www.itv.com/news/central/2016-04-22/photos-show-wrecked-carriages-from-the-smiler-crash/

http://news.sky.com/story/1683357/alton-towers-guilty-over-rollercoaster-crash
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Terrible images, im sure these pictures will have an impact on future carriage designs, ie a lot better crash structure , similar to what cars have.

They say some good comes out of bad things. Lessons will be learnt etc.

I don't think so. Focus on future trains would be on making sure the block system cannot be over-ridden without several failsafes. Adding more to the front car adds more weight and could make a stall more likely.
 

spinba11

TS Member
I'm surprised that the known travel time between brakes/lifts isn't programmed into the computer system and if a train doesn't take that time to travel a block an alarm goes off in the cabin.
 

TomLad

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis/Dragon Khan
I'm surprised that the known travel time between brakes/lifts isn't programmed into the computer system and if a train doesn't take that time to travel a block an alarm goes off in the cabin.
For all we know it may be now.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
I'm surprised that the known travel time between brakes/lifts isn't programmed into the computer system and if a train doesn't take that time to travel a block an alarm goes off in the cabin.
that may not work anyway, as the travel time would probably depend on the combined passenger weight. clever idea, though!
 

Dar

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Taron
That's actually what happens though? The system has a time programmed in it and it compares the cycle times and if it doesn't match within a surprisingly strict tolerance, it throws an alarm. It's one of the ways trims are adjusted, the speed of the last few cycles gets averaged and compared to the desired speed.
 

kris3012

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
that may not work anyway, as the travel time would probably depend on the combined passenger weight. clever idea, though!
Surely you can have a tolerance that would allow this to work ( an extra second for example)
If it take say 30 seconds on a section then an alarm after say 35 seconds or whatever would trigger in the event of any serious problem
 

AndrewH

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
It just seems unfathomable that the smiler, a ride know for being prone to stalling in its early time, didn't have procedures to deal with a stall! I mean come on really? If I was designing procedures for the smiler, stalling would have been near the top of my list!
 
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