Disney World Monorail Crash

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AlanB

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This morning, the operator of a Walt Disney World Monorail train was killed after crashing into the rear of a stationary Monorail train on the Epcot track as guests were leaving the Fourth of July festivities at the resort.
According to Reedy Creek fire officials, the stationary train was at the Transportation and Ticket Center, and the crash occured at approximately 2:00 a.m. Sunday, July 5. Eyewitnesses say that the fire crews used torches to cut through the crushed metal to reach the driver, who was prounounced dead at the scene. Seven other people were checked and found not to be seriously injured.
More can be found at The Examiner

And Channel 2

And Click Orlando.

Ps. I'll move this where it belongs later, but since it is serious and breaking news, it deserves maximum attention for the moment.
 

Bob Dylan

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Alan did you notice the quote about "..this is supposed to be impossible.."?Is this similar to

the Red Line accident in DC especially since the operator supposedly? can overide the

automatic system? Perhaps our experts have info on this type of system? Thanks!
 

AlanB

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I saw that quote Jim, but I'm not so sure about just how that operates. Perhaps they've upgraded things, but last I knew the monorail operators had to memorize the hold points, as there were no signs or other indicators. I know that there are red/green signals, but beyond that I'm not sure if there is actually an automated system that would stop the monorail if an operator ran a signal.

And of course that assumes that the operator didn't override it. However, I would figure that any override would first require a full stop, before being allowed to override and proceed. And that train had to be moving pretty fast to do the damage seen in those photos. So I do wonder about whether there is actually some type of ATS system in place.

The monorails are capable of using such a system, but when that track was built such a system didn't exist. And again, I've not heard that the system was retrofitted. Not saying that it wasn't, just don't know.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Thanks Alan!Readin farther in the comments from ex-employees,locals and actual on sight

guests, I got the impression that the operators had to get "permission" to overide the system

before they could stop the train or else face discipline for not folllowing procedure!If this is

true Im sure Disney will face law suits and lawyers are firing up their phones and lap tops as

I write this!LOL! Im sure being a "cast member" is the same as a low paid,minimum wage job

since there are mentions of cut backs in thne park and poor training?I know accidents happen

and hopefully the truth will come out and corrections will be made!I dont think that I would ride

in the cab of any mono-rail or high speed train or subway, but perhaps a steamer with a good

cow catcher would be OK!Our best to the operators family and anyone injured for sure!
 

AlanB

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I've been fortunate enough to have been up front several times on a monorail and IMHO its a ride that should not be missed, even with the danger of a crash. Most of my rides were in the older MARC IV trains, not the newer MARC VI trains, but either is neat ride.

And upon further reading, I see that there is indeed an automated system in place to stop the trains called MAPO (for MAry POppins). So one does have to wonder what went wrong here.

One thing that I will point out though, in almost 40 years of continuous operation and averaging 50 Million people moved each year, this is the first fatality while on a train. There have been a few incidents with people getting on the beam and either getting hit or electrocuted. But in all those years and with millions of riders, this is the first onboard fatality.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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Alan did you notice the quote about "..this is supposed to be impossible.."?Is this similar tothe Red Line accident in DC especially since the operator supposedly? can overide the

automatic system? Perhaps our experts have info on this type of system? Thanks!
The Cylons are just testing out a few viruses selectively targeting rail-based transportation systems (trains).

There is nothing to worry about. These are only tests.
 

MattW

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(most of this first part is from Wikipedia so take it with a grain of salt)

They store two trains at stations during the night. In order to transfer to a spur line, there is a MAPO override button. Not sure how the two could be connected.

[pure speculation]

The only scenario playing out in my mind right now is that for whatever reason they were operating with passengers at two in the morning, one of the monorails had already been staged and in order to offload the people, the operator was cleared to MAPO override into the station and either misjudged the distance/speed, or there was a failure in the monorail itself preventing it from stopping safely.

[/pure speculation]
 
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AlanB

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(most of this first part is from Wikipedia so take it with a grain of salt)They store two trains at stations during the night. In order to transfer to a spur line, there is a MAPO override button. Not sure how the two could be connected.

[pure speculation]

The only scenario playing out in my mind right now is that for whatever reason they were operating with passengers at two in the morning, one of the monorails had already been staged and in order to offload the people, the operator was cleared to MAPO override into the station and either misjudged the distance/speed, or there was a failure in the monorail itself preventing it from stopping safely.

[/pure speculation]
The switch that allows trains to move between the Epcot loop and the Magic Kingdom loop is after the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC), so the operator of the train that rear ended the other train should not have been operating yet with MAPO overridden. He should have done that while in the station or perhaps shortly after that.

As for why there were passengers on one of the trains, because of the holiday the Magic Kingdom was open until 1:00 AM last night July 4th. Monorails and other forms of Disney transportation always operate until at least two hours after the last park closes. During the winter months when the park closes early at 8:00 PM, the monorails usually run till at least midnight.

[speculation] Now, since this was the Epcot loop, my educated guess is that the train in the station was loading passengers who had been at the Magic Kingdom and had taken the MK train to the TTC and had just transferred to the Epcot bound train to return to their cars parked over at Epcot. The arriving/rear ending train I would figure was empty, since I can't imagine why there would be anyone coming from Epcot over to the TTC, since Epcot had closed hours before.

What was to happen with that arriving train is anyone's guess. It could have been the next Epcot bound train; it could have been headed for the barn.

Finally, while I won't swear to it, I would expect that the two monorails parked in a station overnight either spend the night in either the MK station or the Contemporary Hotel station. The TTC is too far away from the employee areas to be of use for storage IMHO. And to some extent, it's an unsecured area.

[/speculation]

And the reason that two trains get stored in a station, assuming that part is true and I think that it probably is, is that when the original MKC-TTC loop was built, they only had 10 monorail trains and therefore the yard was built to deal with 10 trains. When WDW brought the MARC VI's from Bombardier, they brought 12 trains.
 
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TVRM610

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http://thedisneyblog.com/2009/07/05/one-ca...-monorail-crash

While not an offical source... this claims that monorail pink BACKED into monorail purple while it was at or approaching the station. According to this article, MAPO is usually overidden during this time.

This article also claims that when MAPO is overidden trains are not permitted to run over 15 mph...

Very sad...
 

PRR 60

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The accident occurred when monorail pink backed into a stationary monorail purple at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Monorail pink was out of service and was performing a routine back-up move in preparation for being moved to the storage area. The monorail automatic train control system was overridden (required) for the backing move.

A more complete description of what happened can be found at Post 2 of the discussion at MiceChat.

Mice Chat discussion
 
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AlanB

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Wow, that's one scenario I wouldn't have imagined. And I have to wonder about the 15 MPH that the guy is talking about. That seems like quite a bit of damage for only 15 MPH. I would have pegged that collision as at least 30 MPH.
 

TVRM610

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Wow, that's one scenario I wouldn't have imagined. And I have to wonder about the 15 MPH that the guy is talking about. That seems like quite a bit of damage for only 15 MPH. I would have pegged that collision as at least 30 MPH.
Well... 30 mph might have been possible if both trains had been moving at 15. One speculation I read suggested that monorail purple was just arriving into the station, leading to some witnesses mentioning a "head-on" colission (I think I had read that somewhere.)

It somewhat surprises me that it is "standard procedure" to operate monorails blindly in reverse like this.
 

TampAGS

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My heart sank to the pit of my stomach when I first saw the headlines of this story. One of my friends works at Disney as a Monorail Operator. Thankfully upon further reading I found he was not involved (I later learned he was actually not working at all that evening). He was friends with his colleague who was killed, though, and this has come as quite a shock to him and his fellow Monorail operators and crew. The loss of such a young and promising life so unexpectedly is tragedy enough, but for it to happen at your workplace and to your co-worker and friend... I can't really imagine the myriad of raw emotions they and the young man's family are experiencing.

 

I pray for their community and also for a quick but definitive and accurate determination as to what happened and how. As with most accidents, questions will need to be answered for closure to begin, but the necessity is exponentially greater in workplace accidents.
 

battalion51

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I'm sure in this process some heads are going to roll. It seems like (as in normal railroad operations) there should be a requirement for there to be a person on the leading end of every move, with the ability to stop the train. In this sort of situation it seems like normal protocol would be for the driver to be on the leading end doing a blind reverse move. I could be wrong, but that's EXTREMELY UNSAFE. I guarantee you there will be extreme criticism and scrutiny on Disney for this.
 

Spokker

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A video of the aftermath is here.


While there is nothing graphic, gory, or bloody in this video, I still urge caution when viewing it as it can be unsettling to realize that the operator of the purple train is in the cab and most likely already dead, even as they are trying to get him to respond and open the door.
 
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PRR 60

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I'm sure in this process some heads are going to roll. It seems like (as in normal railroad operations) there should be a requirement for there to be a person on the leading end of every move, with the ability to stop the train. In this sort of situation it seems like normal protocol would be for the driver to be on the leading end doing a blind reverse move. I could be wrong, but that's EXTREMELY UNSAFE. I guarantee you there will be extreme criticism and scrutiny on Disney for this.
For a railroad operation, that is correct, but for this operation, the standard procedure has been to reverse blind with the operator in the trailing cab and the dispatcher at the TTC, who has a clear view f the station and beams, being the eyes for the back-up move. The design of the cars does not permit passage from car to car, and the monorail design does not permit the operator to exit the train and walk back the the other end, so getting someone in the rear cab is not all that easy.

I think one could argue that the safety of that procedure has been proven over some 35+ years of safe operation. The problem here is not that the procedure is unsafe, but that the procedure failed when apparently no one at the TTC was looking when the train was cleared to back into the station with the beam occupied. My guess is that the move is so routine and so repetitious that complacency worked its way in.
 

VentureForth

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My most sincerest condolences to all at Disney World. This is a true tragedy and my heart goes out to all who were intimately involved in the scene.

I've been concerned about Disney for years. In my three years there, I learned a lot about how they hire and train cast members. In the Michael Eisner days, there was a huge "Wal-Mark"-esque move towards cheaper labor. Benefits were cut and finding a full time position almost required someone to retire. Disney thrived on part time labor and college kids.

In my personal experience, the ONLY mode of transit that seemingly kept the best of the best were the busses. I have never seen part timers or college kids driving the busses. But I have on all the boats and ferrys and, yes, the monorail.

During my most recent visit, I talked with folks about training. Trainer training has gone from one day to a half day. Orientation has gone from two days to a day. On the job training, while job specific, has been reduced. Couple that with the promise that your job will only last 3 months, or that you'll only get 30 hours a week and no benefits, apathy is a huge problem.

During my time there, I've ridden the monorail a LOT. Its been 10 years, though, and I don't remember a lot of the details. I know that the Tokyo Disney Resort monorail system only has one operator - in the back. He just makes sure that the doors don't close on people. He can't see if anything might be fouling the beam.

Back to Disney World. I don't know when the Mark VIs were delivered. I'm not suprised at all that SOP hasn't changed though, and I'm sure that the new trains were not any more safe than before. Why would they have to be after 40 fail safe years? It just means more money.
 
T

Tony

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I think one could argue that the safety of that procedure has been proven over some 35+ years of safe operation. The problem here is not that the procedure is unsafe, but that the procedure failed when apparently no one at the TTC was looking when the train was cleared to back into the station with the beam occupied. My guess is that the move is so routine and so repetitious that complacency worked its way in.
I think complacency is the reoccurring theme as I read more and more about this. With 35+ years of safe operation, Disney started to bend their own rules trying to "push" more people thru the monorail with faster turn around times.

One account has that the backing up train was on the wrong rail/beam (some switch didn't switch?). Has anyone verified this?

Another account has that this accident could have been prevented if the operator of the second train had only done an emergency override and "peeled out, backward". Nothing like putting the blame in the wrong place.

The one thing that comes to my mind, is that both train sets stayed on the track/beam. Sorry, but I always had a fear that in such situations, one or both train sets would derail and fall to the ground.
 
T

Tony

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Does anyone know why the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating this, and not the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)?
 

MrFSS

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Does anyone know why the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating this, and not the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)?
From my work experience over the years, OSHA is involved in employee death accidents, no matter where or how it happened.

Does the Momorail at Disney fall under FRA?
 

jis

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Does anyone know why the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating this, and not the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)?
From my work experience over the years, OSHA is involved in employee death accidents, no matter where or how it happened.

Does the Momorail at Disney fall under FRA?
No. But an operation does not have to fall under FRA for NTSB to investigate. NTSB is supposed to investigate all transportation accidents that involve significant loss, and definitely those that involve loss of life. Of course, I have no idea whether a ride in a park would fall under stuff that NTSB investigates.
 

VentureForth

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The Walt Disney World Monorail is a transportation system, not a "ride" per se. However, since it is 100% on private property and doesn't interface with any other mode of transit (like the busses do), I presume that the rules are extremely relaxed. I think OSHA is enough bureaucracy to handle this mess.
 
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