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  1. #1

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    Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    Around 2 a.m. this morning (Sunday the 5th of July, 2009) A monorail at Walt Disney World crashed into a stationary monorail, killing the driver of one of the trains (the monorails involved were Pink and Purple). Eight other people were evaluated for injuries but no other serious injuries were reported.

    Monorail service has been suspended pending an investigation.

    Walt Disney World vice president of public affairs, Mike Griffin, has issued a statement saying: "Today, we mourn the loss of a fellow cast member. Our hearts go out to the family and fellow cast members who lost a coworker and a friend. Safety of our guests and cast members is our top priority. We will work with law enforcement to determine what happened," Griffin said in the statement.A Disney spokeswoman declined to discuss details of the accident."

    Those with detailed knowledge of the Disney World Monorail safety systems, or those who have information regarding the accident are requested to post below.

    Early morning discussion on MiceChat in the moments following the accident can be found HERE: Monorails Collide at WDW - One Killed

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HObhP2wnp98"]YouTube - Monorail Crash At Walt Disney World Kills One[/ame]

    Updated information as of 7:45pm (PST) - Explanation from a former Monorail Pilot which seems to be the best compiled information regarding the crash:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QBZ_S7iAHU"]YouTube - Disney World Monorail Crash Explained by Pilot[/ame]

    Updated 6:25am July 6th - MiceAge Columnist Kevin Kee rounds up the news on what is known and makes some logical speculation on the accident on MiceAge: Monorail Crash Kills Driver
    Last edited by Dustysage; 07-06-2009 at 05:28 AM. Reason: Updated with link to Kevin Yee on MiceAge
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  2. #2

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    Re: Monorails Collide at WDW - One Killed

    Hi guys,

    I'm a former Mark VI railie, and I stay in touch with a fair number of folks in the department. Here's what I've heard. I'm going to stress that it's what I've heard, and I can't represent this as absolute fact. Take that for what it's worth.

    The short, short version is that Monorail Central cleared Monorail Pink in reverse into the Concourse (the Epcot side of the TTC) station without being aware that Monorail Purple was still in the station. Pink was cleared with MAPO override, meaning that the driver would have disabled the anti-collision system (there are a variety of legitimate reasons for doing this), and would have been acting on faith that Central wouldn't have cleared him into a dangerous situation because it sometimes is difficult to see everything you'd want to in the cab mirrors, particularly at night on a curve such as the one he was backing along. For whatever reason, Purple just sat in the station without attempting to avoid the accident, and was struck by Pink moving at the full 15 mph allowed during MAPO override. From what I understand, the driver of Purple was a new transfer from another department. Why Central would not have made sure the station was clear before moving any trains is a bit of a mystery, but I've heard that no one was actually in the control console (the control tower-looking place at Concourse) at the time. To my knowledge, there were no electrical or mechanical problems in play here. Again, I have to stress that I'm relating what I've heard, and I was not there. This is a second-hand account from others more familiar with the situation.

    Okay, speculation time.

    Why would Purple have just sat in the station and let himself get hit? Well, it was a new driver from what I understand, and when Pink got close enough to trigger Purple's MAPO system, it's quite possible that the driver of Purple freaked a little bit (any time a driver gets an unexpected red MAPO light, it gets their attention), and was so intent on looking at his console trying to figure out what was going on that he simply did not see Pink barreling down on him. I suppose it's also possible that the Concourse station didn't have power at the time, preventing Purple from leaving, but I rather doubt that was the case.

    Why would Central clear a train into an occupied station? Inattention, most likely. As I said, I'd heard that Central was not at the console at the time of the accident. IMO, if this is the case, it's the root cause of the accident and whoever was Central should be strung up.

    Also, here's a little primer on how the anti-collision system on the WDW trains works, since there seems to be some confusion as to how the system works:

    The system at Disney is called the MAPO system, or more precisely the Moving Blocklight System (MBS). It consists of a number of transmitters along the beam every 7-10 pylons or so that place RF signals of three different frequencies onto the positive buss bar (power rail), and a corresponding receiver in each train. The trains are wired with a capacitor that shorts the MAPO signals to ground, preventing any signals generated ahead of the train from getting past it. The transmitters are arranged sequentially around the beam- if any given transmitter is putting out frequency #1, then the next one will be emitting frequency #2, and the next one after that will have frequency #3. The one after that will be transmitting frequency #1 again, and the cycle continues all the way around the beam. The upshot of this is that in normal operation, the following distance should be such that there will be three or more transmitters between a given train and the train ahead of him, thus the following train will "see" all three frequencies, and the driver will have a green MBS light on his console. As he begins to get close to the leading train, there will only be two transmitters separating the trains, and the leading train will be shorting out the third MAPO frequency being generated by the next transmitter ahead of it. The following train will then see only two frequencies, and the yellow MBS light illuminates on the driver's console. This signals the driver that he needs to stop at the next designated holdpoint until his MBS indicator turns green again (i.e., the leading train has gone far enough away that there are now again three or more transmitters between the two trains). If the driver ignores the yellow MBS light and continues on, then the following train will only have one transmitter between it and the leading train. This triggers an emergency stop on the following train, with a big ol' blinking red light (a "red MAPO") to let the driver know he screwed up, and a corresponding entry is made in the train's daily event log. It's a reasonably fail-safe system, meaning that if there are problems with the system itself, it will result in a train being stopped instead of being allowed to continue into a dangerous situation. It's not rocket science, and is similar to moving blocklight systems used on subways and other similar systems. Being so simple, the system is pretty reliable, although it rarely can get a bit flaky during thunderstorms, resulting in the occasional yellow MBS light even though there may be a mile or more between trains.

    However, there are a number of situations where the MAPO system needs to be turned off, and for that, there's a "MAPO override" button on the console, which allows the driver to do just that. When MAPO override is active, the train is limited to 15 mph, and the driver has to continue to hold the button down to keep the system overridden. Some examples of when the system needs to be overridden are when trains are on any of the spurlines (since they have no MAPO transmitters), or when trains are being switched between beams.

    Anyway, regardless of what actually did happen, my thoughts go out to the family of the driver that died, and also to the driver of Pink, who I'm sure is living with his own awful grief. No one should have to deal with this kind of stuff for a crappy hourly position, and I hope that this sad event brings some (IMO) much-needed change in the Transportation Department management.

  3. #3

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    Wow...What a sad and horrible event. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the injured, and the friends and family of the driver.

    Lets hope they get to the cause very quickly, and and do what is needed to fix and settle this tragedy.
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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    Such sad news. Prayers go out to all involved.

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    I found this link on an Orlando news outlet. A guy with a camcorder recorded the aftermath of people trying to get to the trapped driver. The poor security CM understandably chases the camera guy off after a few moments. If the mods decide to pull this link I will understand, but it is readily accessible (for now) on the website.
    Video

    I also wish to offer my condolences to the family of the cast member.
    Last edited by MrToadOfToadHall; 07-05-2009 at 10:00 AM.

  6. #6

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    This is just bad. I feel sorry for the drivers. I read he was only 21.

  7. #7

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    Obviously the key here is deep sympathy for the driver and his loved ones.

    But depending on how long they keep the monorail down it is going to produce some real logistical concerns. The busiest time of the year and a major transport system is out of service.
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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    Very, very sad. My condolences go out to the driver's family and friends. I hope for a fast recovery for those who were injured.


  9. #9

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    wow that is sad, that video made me tear up =(
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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    RIP CM who passed away. And please excuse my edited post...July 4th means we have the FREEDOM of speech and so sorry to say we actually don't.
    Last edited by GregC; 07-05-2009 at 10:38 AM. Reason: Removed comment about moved post.

  11. #11

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    Dusty - please edit the OP on this. It is impossible for the monorail to be travelling more than 15 mph in MAPO override, not " a high rate of speed". Also, the family was two cars back, not in the nosecone with the driver (which only holds 4 anyways.)
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  12. #12

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by MrToadOfToadHall View Post
    I found this link on an Orlando news outlet. A guy with a camcorder recorded the aftermath of people trying to get to the trapped driver. The poor security CM understandably chases the camera guy off after a few moments. If the mods decide to pull this link I will understand, but it is readily accessible (for now) on the website.
    Video

    I also wish to offer my condolences to the family of the cast member.
    Wow. That video is disturbing. That must have been just moments after the crash. That's not a security guy in the video, but a fellow monorail CM.

    The article above must be wrong. There is no way a family of 6 was also in that nosecone of purple and were pulled out safely.

    I drove the monorails at Disneyland in California from 1991 to 2002. When I was very new up there (maybe even during my first week) I almost rammed another train ahead of me. It was before we had an automoatic safety system -- not that it would have helped in my instance.

    What happened to me was at nighttime -- I came up the grade and around that sharp turn over the sub falls, approaching the switch. I just caught a glimpse of the white flashing beacon of another train up ahead, so I jammed on my brakes.

    I jammed on my brakes very early, so I was not close to hitting the other train; but what had happened was that there was another train on the spur track. It looked like it was parked there -- all the way back next to the switch (and frankly just a few feet from it running out of beamway).

    I was so new to the Monorails, after I stopped my train I didn't call an "emergency stop" (which tells all other drivers to stop wherever they are). I looked at the train ahead of me, blinked a few times to make sure I was really seeing it, and radioed Monorail Central.

    I never found out why that train was there -- I'm guessing the shop guys were moving it from one side of the shop to the other and maybe it lost its air pressure and coasted down the hill. I don't know why, in that case, they didn't simply shut down power to the system.

    In either case, this was different -- mine wouldn't have been a head-on crash like this one -- I was on the main beamway and the other train was on the spur. Still, no room for me to pass. I always wondered, however, how bad it would have been if I didn't see that beacon.

    Seven years later I got my answer, when the same thing happened to another one of our drivers. He didn't stop in time, but the result was fairly minor damage and no injuries. This happened during the day, so what prevented my crash was really my seeing those beacon lights up ahead.

    Again, that video is chilling and gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Condolences to the family and the entire monorail crew out there. I hope those involved get some therapy, even if they don't think they need it. Tragic.

  13. #13

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    That must have been a scary experience for those children. My prayers go to the driver and his family.


    i am kind of surprised other CM's did not evacuate those guests from the platform right away.

    Very sad

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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    This scares me because my brother is a monorail pilot at DL. Hopefully no further accident's will occur. Sad news


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    Re: Monorail Crash Kills Driver Stuns Passengers At Disney World

    CNN report of the crash

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HObhP2wnp98]YouTube - Monorail Crash At Walt Disney World Kills One[/ame]


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