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Alton Towers riders stranded at 100ft again as Smiler stops

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: April 05, 2014

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ALTON Towers bosses are ‘making no apologies for safety’ after frightened thrill-seekers were suspended 100ft in the air when a ride shut down.

The Smiler opened in May 2013 and has experienced repeated breakdowns since.

At the turn of the year, a couple were compensated with a year’s-worth of free Towers tickets when they were hit by falling debris from the Smiler.

And, on Saturday, the £18 million ride stopped again, leaving riders stranded for around 15 minutes.

A witness said: “The carriage, which was full of people, was at the very top of the track for about 15 minutes.

“A lot of those on the ride were screaming and I’m not surprised - it’s extremely high up.”

When The Smiler was unveiled, the 14-loop rollercoaster broke the Guinness World Record for the most number of loops on a theme park ride.

But it has been hit repeatedly by problems since it opened in May, with the officially opening delayed due to ‘technical difficulties’.

It was again shut for four days on July 21 after a piece fell off the track leading to 48 people having to be rescued.

‘Technical issues’ again led to the ride being closed in August for five days while the theme park got The Smiler back on track.

However, Towers bosses said their stringent safety systems caused the ride to stop on Saturday and the ride has no ongoing technical problems.

A theme park spokesman said: “All of the rollercoasters at the Alton Towers Resort have incredibly sophisticated computer systems which are designed to ensure that the rides run safely.

“They are so sensitive that something as simple as a train being out place on the track can cause them to stop, as they are designed to do.

“Whilst we understand that this is frustrating for our guests and we are of course sorry for any inconvenience, we make no apologies for the safety or sensitivity of our systems.

“There was delay in the station so the computer system told it to stop. We believe they were only up there for nine minutes but it probably seemed longer.

“We take health and safety extremely seriously and we make sure the passengers are informed and are safe and comfortable.

“With regards to questions about ‘ongoing technical issues’, the ride is running normally and within standard operational parameters.”

Last week, hundreds of school pupils descended on Towers to break the Guinness World Record for the largest practical science lesson.

The youngsters, who had flocked to the resort from all over the country, learned about the physics behind The Smiler, forces and how the combination of gravity, a 30-metre drop and 85-kilometres per hour affects riders’ bodies.

Following the record, all the pupils enjoyed a day out around the theme park and had a chance to win free return class trip.

Alton Towers Resort celebrated National Science Week with shows, events and workshops.

More information about school trips at the resort is online at www.altontowers.com/school-trips.

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