There are two UK rollercoasters of similar design to The Smiler at Alton Towers, and while one has closed, the other has remained open.
The accident on Alton Towers’ ride earlier this month led Merlin Entertainments to immediately close Saw – The Ride at its sister attraction Thorpe Park.
Meanwhile, the Rage ride at Southend’s Adventure Island has remained fully operational since.
All three rides are ‘Euro-Fighter’ models made by German manufacturer Gerstlauer, who have remained silent publicly since the 2 June collision at Alton Towers.
The Smiler is an ‘Infinity’ model, essentially the same type of ride with trains of greater capacity and typically more track inversions.
The Infinity trains are offered by the company with lap bar-type restraints – although Alton Towers chose to implement the more conventional the over-shoulder restraints seen on inverting rollercoasters.
That decision may have been vindicated by the fact that in the event of sudden stoppage, lap-bar type restraints are capable of allowing for serious upper-body injuries to occur.
Gerstlauer has not responded to a Ride Rater request for comment, but that is not entirely unexpected given the uncertainty as to what caused the accident at this stage.
Adventure Island said in a statement following the Smiler crash that it was confident that Rage is safe.
“It is impossible for two cars to collide, as the independent dual computer system prevents a car starting its ride until the previous car has arrived back in the station,” they said.
It added that it immediately contacted Gerstlauer following the incident, who assured them that their ride was perfectly safe.
“Our first action on hearing of the tragic incident at Alton Towers was to immediately contact the manufacturer Gerstlauer in order to take its advice.
“It assured us there was absolutely no reason at all why it should not continue to operate as normal,” Adventure Island said.
While The Smiler was served with a Prohibition Notice preventing its use, Saw – The Ride was closed at the decision of Merlin Entertainments, according to its chief executive Nick Varney.
An earlier model of Euro-Fighter – Speed – at Oakwood theme park in Wales, has also continued to operate without interruption since the Alton Towers’ incident.
It seems that while Gerstlauer is confident that sufficient electrical and mechanical safety systems are in place on its rides, Merlin is not as certain that it can operate a ride similar to the Smiler safely at this stage.
This inevitably leads to the question of human error being raised once again.