Alton Towers Resort has today confirmed that it has concluded its investigation into the incident which occurred on The Smiler on 2nd June, confirming that the incident was the result of human error and that the rollercoaster will re-open in 2016.
In a statement released by the Resort it was confirmed that “the incident was the result of human error culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed. The investigation also identified areas where protocols and the training of employees should be improved. There were found to be no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself.”
The Resort went on to add that when it re-opens in 2016, The Smiler will incorporate “an extensive set of new safety measures”, which will include additional CCTV cameras, manual reset buttons around the ride area which will require the individual inspection of each section of track to ensure it is clear before the ride is able to be re-started. Wind speed monitors have been added to the top of the station and at the peak of the first lift hill to closely monitor the wind conditions, whilst down in the pit area of the ride, staircases have been installed to allow easier access when required. It has also been stated that additional protocols will be implemented to ensure that no override can be completed without the authorisation of a senior member of staff.
The full statement from Alton Towers Resort is below:
The investigation concluded that the incident was the result of human error culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed. The investigation also identified areas where protocols and the training of employees should be improved. There were found to be no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself.
Immediately following the incident, the theme park implemented a number of improved safety measures across all multi-car rollercoasters to ensure that an incident of this nature can never happen again. On re-opening, The Smiler ride will also incorporate an extensive set of new safety measures, including technical improvements and enhanced training. An additional level of authorisation will also be added to the existing supervisory protocols to ensure that no manual override process may be completed without a senior member of staff authorising and being in attendance. The technical improvements include multiple additional CCTV cameras and additional manual reset buttons around the track which require staff to inspect each individual section to verify it is clear before authorisation can be given to restart the ride.
“Alton Towers continues to provide help and support to all of those who were on the ride when the incident happened. It has taken full responsibility for the incident and continues to co-operate with the on-going Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation. We are confident that lessons have been learned and that appropriate action has been taken to address all the issues raised by our investigation and we believe our core conclusions will be in line with the HSE findings.
Having completed all of the necessary steps, the ride, which has been closed to the public since June, will re-open in 2016
Although the Resort has now completed its investigation, the HSE’s investigation is still ongoing with no fixed date for the publication of their report.
Since the accident, which saw a train carrying sixteen passengers collide with a stalled empty train on the batwing element of the ride causing significant injuries to five of those passengers, there has been much speculation surrounding the re-opening of the ride, with many media outlets running a range of stories regarding the Resort’s plans for the attraction. Many of these articles focused on whether or not the Resort is right to re-open the ride, with many seemingly suggesting that it should remain closed out of respect for those affected by June’s accident. Amongst the reports was the announcement that three of the emergency workers, Army doctor Major David Cooper, aircrew paramedic Tom Waters and North Staffordshire BASICS volunteer Doctor Ben Clark, received a Pride of Britain award for their work during the rescue operation which saw them climb the structure of the ride to administer treatment, despite not having received full training to climb difficult structures.
As a result of the incident, the Resort has seen a significant drop in attendance figures with the usually busy summer period being much quieter than would typically be expected. This in turn has appeared to have further knock on effects to operations across the theme park with certain rides on staggered openings, and other attractions closing early for the remainder of the season. Most recently has been the announcement that up to 190 salaried jobs would be lost at the Resort as a result of a restructuring of the business due to be completed before the start of the 2016 season next March.
With the announcement of the outcome of its investigation, the Resort will now be looking to move forward starting with the Theme Park’s festive openings which will see a selection of family attractions open to day guests for the first time over the Christmas period. With a number of developments set for 2016, including an overhaul of the Theme Park’s flying rollercoaster, Air, which will see it receive new theming and other ‘enhancements’, plus the opening of the new Rollercoaster Restaurant in Forbidden Valley next May, the Resort will be hoping that they can start to attract guests through the gates once again.
As always, our thoughts are with all those affected by the accident back in June. With Christmas just around the corner, TowersTimes will continue to bring you all the latest developments.
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