The Smiler Incident - What Happened

punks

TS Member
I've recently submitted a Freedom Of Information request to the HSE for information on the Smiler accident. I've received some reports today. Here is some interesting facts/photos

The ride should not have operated if winds were over 34mph. Wind varied between 38mph to 46mph on the day.

The energy absorbed during the initial impact was estimated at 384kJ

CCTV was very poor. Only the back two rows could be seen.
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The control panel didn't show individual train blocks in the station
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Gaps in the track
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Photo of the train being removed
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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
How could I get my hands on a copy, Dan?
 

Dan

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
I'll try and get a copy uploaded next week. Just need to find a working scanner
 

Dan

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
The Steven Flanagan report has already been released. The Factual report is one of the documents I have so at least I don't need to scan that one in :)
 

Jared

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Hex
Briefly scanned a few parts of the witness report. It says that, according to the manufacturer, for a train to be registered as entering a block only ONE of the TWO switches needs to be actuated for a positive response ('OR' logic) yet for a train to be registered as having left a block, BOTH switches must have been actuated for a positive response ('AND' logic). Why the difference? Why are they requiring only 1 switch for entering but both for exiting? I'm not sure I understand that logic.
 
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MattyH

TS Member
Favourite Ride
GIIBBB
Briefly scanned a few parts of the PDF eye witness report. It says that, according to the manufacturer, for a train to be registered as entering a block only ONE of the TWO switches needs to be actuated for a positive response ('OR' logic) yet for a train to be registered as having left a block, BOTH switches must have been actuated for a positive response ('AND' logic). Why the difference? Why are they requiring only 1 switch for entering but both for exiting? I'm not sure I understand that logic.

Presumably one at the entry of the block and one at the exit? so to Enter it passes the entry point switch but to exit is has to pass both the entry and exit switch.
 

Jared

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Hex
Presumably one at the entry of the block and one at the exit? so to Enter it passes the entry point switch but to exit is has to pass both the entry and exit switch.

That would make sense but that's not how the report reads. It says there's a pair of proximity sensors at the start of a block, and a pair at the end. Yet on entry, only one sensor must be actuated on entry for the train to register as within the block. But both sensors on exit must be triggered.

From witness report:
"i) entry of a train into a block is monitored by a pair of proximity switches, and a signal from at least one of the switches is sufficient for the control system to regard the train as having entered the block, and ii) exit of a train from the block is monitored by a pair of proximity switches, and a signal from both of the switches is required for the control system to regard the train as having left the block. This demonstrates the correct approach to ensuring safety through 'redundancy', using 'AND' and 'OR' logic in the control system appropriately, i.e. OR logic for situation i) above, and AND logic for situation ii) above."

Why even have two switches on entry if you're only requiring a response from one? In this context, what does "safety through redundancy" mean exactly?
 
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Jared

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Hex
Sure, could be the case. But that would only apply to the entry switches, as there's two of those but only one is required. Whereas both exit switches must be activated for the train to register as having left the block. Meaning there's no backup for the exit condition. Maybe this is just the way it's designed and I'm digging into it too much. It just struck me as odd.
 

Katy

TS Member
It's to cope with a sensor triggering by mistake, or failing to trigger when the train passes over. Means it should always fail safe with a train in block error rather than thinking the block has cleared when it hasn't.
 

AndrewH

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
As when the train is entering a block it is essential that it triggers the sensor so if either is triggered it must show as occupied. When leaving the block it is vitally important that the train definitely exits that block hence the requirement for both sensors to be triggered to ensure it has definitely left.

Also did anyone else notice it said the crash happened in the cobra roll element? Erm did it not happen in the batwing?
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
It's more cautious that way. It would take just one sensor to detect a train going into a block (I.E in to potential danger) but would require a more than one to confirm it has definitely left a block (away from potential danger and in to safety). If you think of it like that, it actually makes perfect sense.
 

Dan

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Here is the additional reports I have received. It contains the following
  • Witness statement 1 from an electrical engineer who worked on the smiler talking about his role and procedures but not about the accident
  • Witness statement 2 from the same person (All other witness statements were redacted)
  • The daily ride report sheet from the day of the accident
  • Executive summary of HSL report ES/2015/70
  • Executive summary of HSL report MH/15/190
  • BRE wind report (I haven't scanned the pages with the raw data)
I have asked the Health & Safety Laboratory for their full reports and will let you know if I get anything from them.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Here is the additional reports I have received. It contains the following
  • Witness statement 1 from an electrical engineer who worked on the smiler talking about his role and procedures but not about the accident
  • Witness statement 2 from the same person (All other witness statements were redacted)
  • The daily ride report sheet from the day of the accident
  • Executive summary of HSL report ES/2015/70
  • Executive summary of HSL report MH/15/190
  • BRE wind report (I haven't scanned the pages with the raw data)
I have asked the Health & Safety Laboratory for their full reports and will let you know if I get anything from them.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
i have to say that the witness statements were very interesting to read, as I'm interested in the technical side of roller coasters.
 

GaryH

TS Member
Its a pretty shocking report when you read through it all.

Page 13, Item 28 sounds a bit worrying:

"Post incident no evidence was found that the track itself was defective. The Smiler underwent an independent examination by Jacobs Engineering which found gaps in the track which were larger than would normally be expected but (in the opinion of Jacobs engineers) would not contribute to reducing the speed of the train."

Gaps in the track larger than to be expected...... so the next accident waiting to happen then, part of the track section coming apart and shearing the bolts off?

Also, page 14.

"36. The two electrical maintenance engineers who performed the block reset on the Smiler on the day of the accident had not seen / been appraised / given any formal training or written procedures for how to go about performing a block reset.

37. The two electrical maintenance engineers in question had not seen any risk assessments for the Smiler ride.

38. The four engineers who attended the Smiler on the day of the incident had not seen and/or not read Gerstlauers Original Operating Instructions."


Pretty shocking. I would have thought Towers to be much better on training than this.
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Its a pretty shocking report when you read through it all.

Page 13, Item 28 sounds a bit worrying:

"Post incident no evidence was found that the track itself was defective. The Smiler underwent an independent examination by Jacobs Engineering which found gaps in the track which were larger than would normally be expected but (in the opinion of Jacobs engineers) would not contribute to reducing the speed of the train."

Gaps in the track larger than to be expected...... so the next accident waiting to happen then, part of the track section coming apart and shearing the bolts off?

If there was any type of accident still waiting to happen, then there's no way on this planet H&SE would have allowed the ride to re-open. The ride is perfectly safe. Even the judge stated in his closing statements during the trial that the ride itself was perfectly fine.

During last closed season, there were pictures that surfaced of the ride with scaffolding surrounding parts of the track, so I'm sure any structural problem would have been dealt with before the ride reopened.
 

GaryH

TS Member
True but isnt there an issue with the foundations in this area - if so that could potentially cause some of the gaps in the track to open up?
 

andeyhart

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Possibly, but I doubt it would be enough of a problem for there to be a serious issue. As terribly inept as Towers/Merlin were in the events leading up to the crash, I sincerely believe they've learnt their lesson in this respect.
 
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