More Monorail troubles


#1

Looks like we had some more monorail trouble yesterday evening. Not as dramatic as the power down of the whole system a few days ago. It looks like the cost cutting is catching up to Disney.

Disney monorail: A monorail train was towed after a glitch in the system – OrlandoSentinel.com

A glitch aboard a Walt Disney World monorail train forced it to be towed this evening, a company spokesman said.

The incident took place on the express line about 6 p.m. as a train was traveling between the Transportation Ticket Center and the Contemporary Resort. An on-board computer detected a possible mechanical problem, triggering the train to power down.

The train was towed to the next stop and the passengers were let off.

The problem was resolved by 6:30 p.m.


#2

This is becoming epidemic across the entire American business scape as companies look more to the bottom line than they really ought to.
Reduced staffing, delayed maintenance, reduced services, etc, all in an effort to squeeze the last penny from the system in our weak economy.
The real problem is, how long will companies try to keep cutting to the bone and how long after things turn around will they keep operations cut to the bone? How many will keep soldiering on at reduced levels instead of bringing back manpower?

General comment, not finger pointing.


#3

[QUOTE=Soundgod;1008637]This is becoming epidemic across the entire American business scape as companies look more to the bottom line than they really ought to.
Reduced staffing, delayed maintenance, reduced services, etc, all in an effort to squeeze the last penny from the system in our weak economy.
The real problem is, how long will companies try to keep cutting to the bone and how long after things turn around will they keep operations cut to the bone? How many will keep soldiering on at reduced levels instead of bringing back manpower?

General comment, not finger pointing.[/QUOTE]

Companies are always looking at the bottom line. If they didn’t they wouldn’t stay in business. Companies are just hanging on for dear life right now trying to keep operations going (which means cutting some people so others can stay employed and a hope that someday other can be hired back on).

Labor is the most expensive line item (and important). It has to be balanced to the operational need. To much and you could cause the need for drastic labor cuts to make up for the looses. To little and you can’t meet demand and loose revenue again causing drastic labor cuts.

The best way to encourage companies to rehire people in a downturn like this is for the government to do it’s part and lower the cost of employing people. Not to get political but if we had put the stimulus (and the new 1.1 trillion dollar plan being passed by congress) toward lowering or giving a tax holiday on the employment tax you would see the unemployment number drop quickly (and even better way would be to not spend this money at all and to lower the national debt and credit requirements of the government so the business credit market wouldn’t be choked off like it is).

Again sorry for the politics.


#4

Politics aside, if they had given me the stimulus money I would have been very stimulated.

just sayin’


#5

[QUOTE=Boss Mouse;1008642]Politics aside, if they had given me the stimulus money I would have been very stimulated.

just sayin’[/QUOTE]

It would have been better spent!!

:laugh:


#6

I am not accusing Disney of this, but I do know that the company I am working for has been using the economy as an excuse to increase their bottom line. We have had no raises in two years and they are moving us from nice office spaces to 5’ x 7’ cubicles. Meanwhile we posted a decent profit both years and the top brass has taken home multi million dollar bonuses.

I hate the corporate world!


#7

More on fatal monorail crash this summer.

Monorail guide warned of hazard when trains backed up without a spotter | TheDailyDisney.com from OrlandoSentinel.com

JASON GARCIA, NEWS — BY JASON GARCIA

The manufacturer of Walt Disney World’s monorail trains warned against the kind of reverse driving that contributed to the system’s first fatal crash this past summer, according to documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
An operating manual written for the Disney trains by Bombardier Inc. warned that driving the vehicles in reverse “is a potentially hazardous operation even under the best conditions” and “strongly recommended” that an observer be stationed at the opposite end of a train whenever one is backing up.

The July 5 accident occurred as a Disney train was supposed to be moving off of the resort’s Epcot loop at the end of a work day, a process that requires the train to move in reverse through a track switch and onto a short spur leading to one of the system’s Magic Kingdom loops. But the track switch was not activated that night, so the train wound up reversing back down the Epcot loop instead, hitting another train and killing the second train’s 21-year-old driver, Austin Wuennenberg of Kissimmee.
At the time of the crash, Disney’s monorail policies did not require that someone be watching the back of the train being driven in reverse. So there was no spotter in place who could have warned the driver that the switch had not moved and the train was backing down the wrong track.
Disney said it had multiple other safeguards in place that night to monitor trains being driven in reverse. Yet on Sunday the resort instituted a new policy forbidding trains from backing up unless a spotter is watching the opposite end.

The new policy is strict: Even a train that overshoots its stopping point by a foot or two as it pulls into a station cannot back up to align with the passenger gates until a spotter on the platform has given radio clearance.
Greg Hale, chief safety officer and vice president of worldwide safety and accessibility for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in an interview Monday that the change is part of an ongoing effort to improve monorail safety. The July crash was the first fatal accident in the system’s 38 years of operation.
“We’ve continued — and will continue — going through every scenario and making sure we have the best safety procedures we can,” Hale said. “I think we feel confident we’ve taken every step that’s prudent and will continue to do so.”

The 20-year-old operating manual was unearthed by federal investigators examining the crash. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have each launched probes; OSHA is expected to release its findings within the next two weeks.
Representatives of OSHA and NTSB both said Monday they would not discuss specifics of their reviews. “The investigation is continuing,” OSHA spokesman Michael Wald said.

NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said his agency’s investigation is expected to take another six months or so to complete.

No one else was hurt in the July crash. It happened at about 2 a.m., with only six guests aboard Wuennenberg’s train and none aboard the other train.
Disney’s current generation of monorail vehicles, known as Mark VI trains, were put into service in 1989. The vehicles were built by Bombardier based on specifications provided by Disney, which designed the trains.
Driving the trains in reverse can be dangerous because drivers in the front cab have a limited view of the track behind them. And reversing through a track switch is especially hazardous because traversing the switches requires drivers to manually override the trains’ automated anti-collision systems, which rely on sensors built into the monorail’s main track, or beam.

As such, the operating guide that Bombardier supplied with the trains includes the warning about reverse driving and the recommendation to use an observer. The disclaimer is printed in bold lettering immediately under the heading of a section titled, “Moving the train in reverse direction.”
A spokeswoman for Montreal-based Bombardier declined to comment.
Disney acknowledged that its policies at the time of the accident did not require an observer to watch the rear of trains that were backing up. But it said it had other safety policies in place designed to accomplish the same goal, including several specific measures for trains reversing through track switches.

For example, Hale said, there are series of sensors that both monitor the position of the locks that hold a switch in place and indicate which sections of track have power. That information is then displayed on a grid in the monorail’s maintenance shop, where it is visible to the employee who controls the switches. When activating a switch, the employee is supposed to use that grid to verify that the track has actually moved from the loop to the spur or back again.

A similar grid is displayed on a console in the Transportation and Ticket Center, the monorail’s central hub, for monitoring by the monorail’s “central coordinator,” who oversees the entire system by radio. But Disney’s policies at the time of the crash did not require the coordinator to be positioned at that console; the resort has since begun requiring coordinators to remain there at all times.

Hale also said that most track switches — including the one linking the Epcot loop to the spur — are monitored by video camera. As with the track sensors, the video images are visible on monitors in the maintenance shop for the worker who activates the switches.

And the moving of a switch, he said, requires a strict, step-by-step protocol of radio communication between the train driver, the central coordinator and the maintenance bay to ensure that everything is in position.
“We’ve got nearly 40 years of operating experience and of operating the entire monorail system, and we’ve evolved our procedures based on that collective experience,” Hale said.

According to people familiar with details of the accident investigations, the chain of events leading to the crash began when the worker in the maintenance bay mistakenly radioed that it was clear for the train to begin backing up and transferring off the Epcot line — even though he had not realigned the track. The central coordinator’s role was also in flux that night — an employee had gone home ill, so the job was being handled temporarily by a manager on his dinner break — so no one was at the console in the Transportation and Ticket Center.

The rule added Sunday, requiring spotters whenever a train is reversing on a track, applies to all reverse driving, not just during track switches. Hale said Disney’s trains typically travel in reverse when they are being taken in or out of service and must transfer between tracks, when they slightly overshoot loading gates in a station, and during malfunctions that require rapid unloading.

Hale said the spotter’s role can be filled by different employees depending on the situation, including workers on a station platform, drivers of a train on another beam, or by an extra employee dispatched to ride in the rear cab.


#8

Having stayed in the Contemporary tower with MK view a few times, I’ve had a great view of the monorail system and the switches from the main line to the shop as well as the transfer between the inner and outer loop. As I watched, I’d always presumed that when they needed to back the trains that they would automatically have pilots in both the front and back cabs.
It just seems like such a no brainer.
I do find it interesting that the manager, who I had previously felt was a major part of the problem being out to dinner at such a critical time was just wrong, but learning that he was actually covering for an ill coworker, I’m inclined to give him a little less scorn.
Overall, it looks like the system had become very lax and understaffed. That’s a management problem and the individual workers got caught by decisions that were made far over their heads.
Let’s hope that they can manage to keep people in the control towers like they’re supposed to.
I don’t even want to address the CM who told the train to proceed even though he had not thrown the switch.


#9

And OSHA weighs in:

OSHA cites Disney World for multiple safety violations following monorail investigation | TheDailyDisney.com from OrlandoSentinel.com

Federal workplace-safety investigators charged Walt Disney World on Wednesday with multiple violations and proposed $44,000 in fines following a July accident on the resort’s monorail that killed a 21-year-old employee.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Disney for one “serious” safety violation that contributed to the July 5 accident, which occurred as one of Disney’s trains was driving in reverse during a botched track switch and backed into another train, killing driver Austin Wuennenberg of Kissimmee.

The agency said Disney failed to recognize the potential hazards of driving the trains in reverse — noting, for instance, that the resort did not follow a 20-year-old operating guide written by the train’s manufacturer, Bombardier Inc. The guide recommends that, whenever a train is moving in reverse, an observer should be positioned to watch the opposite end. Disney this past weekend began requiring spotters whenever trains are backing up.

OSHA also charged Disney with three separate safety violations that were discovered during the monorail investigation but unrelated to the accident. OSHA cited the resort for exposing workers in the monorail’s maintenance shop to a fall of more than 8 feet without adequate protections, and for not training monorail employees in the use of portable fire extinguishers — both of which OSHA said were repeat violations for Disney World. The agency also cited Disney after discovering a drill press in the monorail-maintenance shop that did not have a safety guard installed.

In addition, OSHA issued a recommendation — though not a safety-violation citation — in connection with its investigation into the death of another Disney worker, Mark Priest, who died after falling during a stage performance in the Magic Kingdom in August.

OSHA said Disney should ensure that employees rehearse on a new stage before their first live performance in the new venue. Priest, 47, was injured after stumbling into a wall during a performance of “Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial” in the Magic Kingdom.

“With the monorail, Disney should have put procedures in place that would have prevented the fatal crash from occurring,” OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels said in a prepared statement. “Employers need to take effective and ongoing corrective action to protect the health and safety of their workers. In the case of the actor’s death, OSHA feels that greater familiarity with the new stage might have changed the outcome.”

OSHA is still investigating the death of a third Disney employee this past summer: 30-year-old Anislav Varbanov, who died after breaking his neck while rehearsing for the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.

Disney has 15 business days to accept or challenge OSHA’s findings in the monorail case.
“We have just received OSHA’s findings and are in the process of reviewing them,” said Greg Hale, chief safety officer and vice president for worldwide safety and accessibility for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We will address any concerns and next steps directly with OSHA. We have already made several enhancements to the operation of the monorail and will review these findings to determine whether any additional steps are necessary.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the monorail crash; its probe isn’t expected to be complete for about another six months.

Of the $44,000 in fines proposed by OSHA, $35,000 was for the two repeat violations. The agency recommended a $7,000 fine for the violation directly related to the crash.

The crash occurred at about 2 a.m. on July 5 as a Disney train was supposed to be moving off of the resort’s Epcot loop at the end of a work day, a process that requires the train to move in reverse through a track switch and onto a short spur leading to one of the system’s Magic Kingdom loops. But the track switch was not activated that night, so the train wound up reversing back down the Epcot loop instead and colliding with Wuennenberg’s train.

According to people familiar with details of the events, the chain of events leading to the crash began when a worker in the maintenance bay, who was responsible for activating track switches, mistakenly radioed that it was clear for the train to begin backing up and transferring off the Epcot line — even though he had not realigned the track. The role of the monorail’s central coordinator, who directs the entire system by radio, was also in flux that night: An employee had gone home ill, so the job was being handled temporarily by a manager on his dinner break, and no one was at the coordinator’s console, where a display grid would have shown that the track switch had not moved.

OSHA broadly cited Disney because it “did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”

The agency outlined several ways that Disney World could address the safety violation, such as the use of a spotter as recommended by Montreal-based Bombardier. Among other remedies it said would be acceptable: Requiring the coordinator to be at his console at all times; ensuring clear visibility is maintained on monorail windshields; providing a way to use the trains without overriding an automated anti-collision system (which must be overridden during track switches); and providing written instruction, training and exams for the master operator in the monorail’s maintenance shop.
In an interview, Hale said Disney World has made a series of changes since the accident, including several that were suggested in OSHA’s report.

In addition to adopting the spotter requirement this past Sunday, for example, Hale said Disney now requires the central coordinator to remain at his console at all times. That change was made soon after the accident. Hale said workers in the maintenance shop have also been provided with new written training materials detailing train-transfer procedures.

Further, workers on the platforms at Disney monorail stations are now trained to use hand packs that can instantly cut off power to the track in the station — and thus stop a train from entering — in all emergencies. Previously, he said, workers had been trained to use them in more limited situations, such as when a guest wanders too close to the edge of the track.

When a train is being transferred from one monorail track, or “beam,” to another, the central coordinator must now actively verify that the appropriate switches have been realigned by the operator in the maintenance shop. And when the train must pass through the switch in reverse, drivers must now drive from the rear cab.


#10

Last week we were waiting at MK to get to the Poly and the lime green train died and moved and died and moved and finally (after about 20 min) limped into the station. Everyone had to get off, no one got on and everyone had to find their own way to wherever. Two days later, we just missed the lime green train and got on the next one. Halfway between GF and MK, we stop. Paused for a few mins,…few more mins…finally the announcement the lime green train (they didn’t say the color) was having trouble and stuck at the station. After a few more min, we were able to get to the station. Not sure what happened after that.


#11

Jo-Jo, I hope your experience does not become typical. The current monorails trains at WDW are probably in need of some work. We know they carry a lot of people everyday and that there have been budget cut backs on maintenance.

I would be happy to see Disney shutter some attractions a few days a week during the down season if it means they put that saving back into maintenance. My last couple visits you can really see the wear and tear at the parks.


#12

Ummmm I don’t want to see them shutter any attractions when it’s slow because that’s the time I like to go. How about they use some of the millions and billions they make off of us to keep things up to snuff. That would work just fine! Thank you very much!!


#13

I am going to have to agree with InHouseMouse, the down time is the best time to go! I am sure that the economy is hurting Disney but I am also sure Disney has money beyond my comprehension.


#14

I’m sure they could even use a fraction off what they make in Pin Trading to pay for a nice upgrade on the Monorail. Or if they are really crying poor then Disney can put re-release Song of the South or any number of old Disney movies that are sitting all locked up in a ‘vault’.


#15

The Mark VI trains are 20 years old and considering that the fleet of 12 (now 11) have virtually no down time, ever, they are either in serious need of major major overhaul or outright replacement.
Just think how many times they’ve literally remanufactured all of the GMC-RTS buses, and all of those suckers have over a million miles a piece on them (they range in age from 16 to 30 years). The monorails are used just as heavily, although the beam is surely less stressful on the vehicles than the roads are.


#16

Ditto! That’s when I go, so I want all the attractions up and running properly.


#17

It is when I go to but I wouldn’t mind if they took down an attraction here or there for a few days to do needed maintenance.


#18

Anything mechanical needs downtime for maintenance and doing it after hours is just not practical for certain types of maintenance. I also usually go during the slow times and just expect rides to be closed. I just learn to check the closure list before deciding on dates, if going on a particular ride is important to me.


#19

I have no problem if it’s being closed to be fixed up but how it was sounding is that you wouldn’t mind if they closed it just to save money by not running it. That I would be totally against. I have gone down when something I like is being refurbed and although it might have sucked I totally didn’t mind that they were working on it and knew it was going to be closed when I went down.