Communication on the Rails: Testing Down Time

It’s no secret to guests that the monorails experience many technical difficulties, maintenance checks, and other challenges that delay our operations. However, we also undergo testing that requires the system to go out-of-service for some time. Each of the twelve Mark VI trains have been in constant rotation since 1992, and with closing procedures occurring around 2:00 am and opening procedures around 5:00 am, there is very little break time. Even when the monorail is not transporting guests from one station to another, it is still important for monorail operators to remain alert and active on the job.

Any time the beam is “hot,” or has 600 volts of electricity running through it, there must be somebody on the platform. If the monorails are testing, the platform operator simply monitors train activity. If something seems out of place or wrong, he/she is then able to de-energize immediately with a handpack or the console station.

Three days a week, the Express beam operates under a “mid-day shut down.” During this time, trains are tested or repaired on the Express beam. This usually occurs from around noon to 6:30 pm, although our testing occasionally requires more or less time. While this occurs, many monorail cast members (platform and drivers) are sent to audience control to direct guests to the Resort monorail for parking. The Express beam is our most popular beam, since it takes guests directly from their cars at the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom and back. It is also the beam that most guests are accustomed to, and many of them believe that the Resort monorail only stops at the resorts. Therefore, we have to constantly explain to guests that the Resort monorail stops at the parking lot as well when the Express monorail is not operational. When the Resort monorail line becomes long, we redirect to ferryboats. Alternate transportation is always available.

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Signs direct guests to alternate transportation when the monorails undergo tests. (via casadwyer.com)

Monorail Coral has recently made its debut on the beams for the first time in over a year. When a train does not come out of shop for a long time, it requires testing to make sure it can adequately carry guests and operate successfully on the beam. When Coral came out this week to carry guests for the first time, I was instructed to perform opening procedures by checking the train’s phones, PAs, seats, emergency window seals, and fire extinguishers. I had to then let the driver know what was operational and what was not in the train. After physically checking the train, I had to perform our train distance checks over the radio to make sure that Coral was a safe enough distance away from other trains once it was brought on the Express beam.

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Monorail Coral was undergoing refurbishment in shop for a long time, so when it came out to transport guests again, many tests had to be completed. (via flickriver.com)

Testing requires honest communication. If something seems out of place, it must be reported. If a guest needs alternate transportation due to the monorail not being in operation, they must be provided with accurate information. If a cast member is not honest with monorail operations, a safety violation is extremely possible. We test to make sure monorail operators, drivers, and guests are safe, and when something goes wrong, it must be noted and repaired immediately.

 

 

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