Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2015 9:34 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Up to 190 jobs could go at Alton Towers due to a sharp drop in revenue since the rollercoaster crash that required amputation for two victims.
Read more from The Yorkshire Post.
I expected this kind of outcome.
Did you? It feels like this incident really hit Alton much harder than the same circumstances (or worse) has hit other parks around the world when they have suffered such incidents. I think there are a lot of reasons for that.
It surprised me that there are 1000 salaried employees, also. I guess a fair few of those will be based in the hotels, but it still sounded too many.
Yeah, I agree. This is an entirely atypical reaction to a ride accident.
"I'm not going on Roller Coaster 18. It isn't safe."
Lord Gonchar said:
Yeah, I agree. This is an entirely atypical reaction to a ride accident.
I think it's the gruesome nature of the whole thing, with the amputations and whatnot. That, and the way that it happened is something we really haven't seen before. Sure, WE know it was operator error, but I'm not so sure everyone else "gets" that.
Agreed, it's the nature of it. Look what the amputation (by the ride, no less) did to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. If it had been some broken bones and cuts and bruises, that would have been different. That two teenage girls had their lives changed in this way is not easy to just overlook.
I think the fact that it was injuries rather than fatalities also changes the way the news is reported and the shelf life of the story. As recently as three weeks ago those who were injured were doing front page interviews with national newspapers and appearing on breakfast television talking about their rehabilitation progress.
Whereas when there is a fatality, the story comes and goes much more quickly, it seems.
When there's a fatality, we hear from family members and friends.
When there's an amputation or some other life-changing injury, we hear directly from the victims.
Seems there's a major difference in the perception of these two types of tragedies...but it's somewhat counter-intuitive.
The UK tabloids also happen to rehash the story on a fairly regular basis. I don't post those stories because they never offer anything new.
I am also thinking that it's the human condition to look for a reason for an accident and then draw conclusions about it. And when the reason can be tied back to rider error or pre-existing rider condition, as is often the case for fatalities, it's just easier for folks in general to get comfortable with what has happened in relation to their own experience with the park. In cases like this one and Kentucky Kingdom, it's just flat out victimization without cause from the rider and that's harder for folks to move on from, I think.
Said another way, no one wants something like this to happen to them. When they can feel confident that it wouldn't have or won't, they move on. When they can't reconcile that and still fear it, they don't.
When an accident happens and the ride itself is to blame do we feel more confident in returning to a park than in the case where an operator is at fault?
To some, something like a bad cable that finally snapped might be viewed generally as a freak, however tragic occurrence. And if they're of the belief that it could never happen to them, patrons may return sooner if not immediately. But can the public ever trust that bad operators aren't forever peppered around the entire park and there's a general lack of concern for safety and training?
We all know the park carries a degree of responsibility in both cases, but I wonder if one spells ruin for a park more than another? I tend to think Bad Operator might be the toughest hurdle to get over as the chain of blame stops within the gates of the park.
This is really a shame all around...
Interestingly enough, I've been doing some research, and it seems this isn't the first time this has happened at Alton Towers. Apparently, in 1991 or so - their wild mouse did the exact same thing. A car had valleyed, and an operator overrode the controls, causing a collision.
Unfortunately, most everything I'm seeing is anecdotal, as the internet as we know it wasn't really available at the time so I'm having trouble finding an article.
To further expand on Mac's theory, which I tend to agree with, I'll say that as a fairly non-enthusiasty enthusiast (I can quote pretty much any stat and know when new coasters are coming and some of their unique features, but when we get into safety features, mechanics, and finances, I start to glaze over a little), my thoughts would likely align with many GP patrons:
1) Why didn't anyone check to make sure the test trains came back before sending a loaded carriage out?
2) If they couldn't see if the empty carriage came back, why didn't they send an employee to check if all the carriages were in the station? Don't they do counts of the carriages, at least on start of day and after any major testing?
3) If they don't do counts, why aren't there cameras placed along the ride to make sure the track is clear? Most of the ride if not all is not visible to the ops from the ride station, so why not place cameras as an added precaution?
4) If they were having nearly an hour of mechanical issues in which they loaded and unloaded guests out of cars at least twice, why didn't they send out another test vehicle before sending the loaded carriage out? My understanding was they sent out an empty carriage for testing, never noted it didn't come back but continued to experience technical difficulties, unloaded the carriage full of people, waited a bit, loaded them back on, and sent them out without another test run.
The whole thing just reeks of poor safety planning and training, and although I believe this is not generally an Alton Towers lack, the severity of the accident combined with the way this LOOKS in terms of safety precautions and training could be a major factor in the decline of sales and need for layoffs.
Edited to say that on further thought, I'm not quite understanding why, although the park has seen a drop in attendance, they are cutting jobs if the other parks are still performing well. It (to me, who is not a financial genius by any stretch) seems like a a bad vote of confidence for the recovery of the park. I'd think if they wanted to continue to keep the park open and successful after the accident, they'd want to maybe actually put more money into the park, especially in staff training and PR related to that increased safety training. After all, what looks better:
"Hey, look at our thoroughly trained ride staff, safety task force, and track cameras. We realize that we can't fix what happened to those unfortunate people, but we have taken these redundant precautions to ensure guest safety."
"Because we lost money after this accident, we are reducing staff. We realize that we can't fix what happened to those unfortunate people, but placing more responsibilities on fewer staff members really shouldn't negatively affect safety or customer satisfaction at all."
I don't know...it seems a bit premature of them to decide on this, and maybe the running scared thing might not impact the park further, but I think it might be a mistake.Last edited by bunky666, Sunday, November 15, 2015 10:19 PM
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