Escalator malfunction leads to injuries and arrests

Don’t tell me what is funny or not. I laughed, I guess I’m a monster.

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This line just confused me. Is it supposed to be sarcastic?


I kinda agree, although I’m tempted to watch the video out of curiosity about the exact degree of failure of the machinery, because I like to meditate about breaking points and things like that. But I think I won’t.

I am more interested to hear about Otis Engineers allegedly hiding evidence and getting arrested. Otis, from what I know, is one of the most QA-focused companies in the world, and this would be a huge fucking deal if true.


I hope not. If nobody was killed, it’s a miracle.


I think it’s Rob’s way of reminding us not to turn this thread into a yuck-fest. And probably also a way to signal to people who don’t use the forum that Rob isn’t making light of the injuries.


There is journalistic value; it helps people imagine what they might do to help themselves or others when encountering a similar situation. Personally I was horrified (perhaps too strong a word) imagining what it would be like to be on that escalator, especially with a child. But I also was able to see where the problem was with the crowds response and, if I were to see something like that happen, I think I’d be much more prepared to respond with authority that clearing the crowd at the bottom was the most important thing.


Escalators are evil. I avoid them after having seen a kid get injured by one that was not even malfunctioning.

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That’s really interesting. And if it happens once, it’ll happen all the time, unless and until they change something about that situation.

He’s having his cake and eating it too. It’s a perk of being the original poster.


I read it as just the opposite. “Remember, there is nothing funny about this extremely hilarious thing. Haha, look at 'em go.”

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This happened literally because someone swapped two wires. Escalators typically use compound-wired DC motors because compound wiring gives you good torque and efficiency. Differential compound wiring (where half of the field windings are out-of-phase) also gives good speed regulation under varying loads, which is what you want in an escalator.

The big gotcha if a differential compound motor stalls from too much load, it can go unstable. It will reverse rotation and run as fast as possible until something blows up… which is why you must detect that and trip a shutdown. If that isn’t working or you don’t have it, you wire the motor cumulatively, no exceptions.


I was always afraid of escalators as a kid. It was the beginning and ending, in particular, and my imagination of being pulled into and ground up by the teeth of the steps.

Ironically, my dad was afraid of elevators because of a real incident in which one he was occupying dropped a short distance and had him trapped for almost an hour. So we took the stairs a lot when I was young. On the plus side, we have calves of steel!

I watched and didn’t laugh. I looked for the response of bystanders, and, sure enough, there were that minority of folks who went towards the problem and started dragging people clear of the base of the escalator almost immediately.


It made me think of the extremely unfunny King’s Cross fire, and I guess a lot of Londoners will have the same thought, which is probably why the Guardian had this on their home page.

Which still doesn’t mean I can’t see the funny side of people falling down stairs. That’s part of the mechanism that makes it possible for me to travel via King’s Cross every day without becoming a (statistically unjustified) nervous wreck.

For those who haven’t watched yet, the videos are fairly benign in content. (Though I am an old fart and may be a bit jaded.)

I have only two questions, really.

  1. How long did it take for somebody to hit the emergency stop button, (the escalator runs for quite awhile and I’m wondering if the stop button malfunctioned as well)?

  2. Why was there somebody conveniently videoing the exact area affected at the exactly the right time to capture it all, (the distance shot is a hand-held camera, not security)?


The mall said that the escalator had last been inspected on Thursday, with no problems detected.

I think they’d better bring those inspectors in for questioning.

Newspaper Apple Daily said the reactivation could have affected the escalator’s computer data records.

That seems strange. If there’s a proper event log, it should timestamp each change. Does Apple Daily know, or are they speculating?

It’s possible that reengaging the auxiliary brake was an automatic reflex by the technicians, a standard safety drill. I’d sure want something like that locked down before sticking my head and hands inside.


Looking at it again, it looks like hand-held video of a flat screen playing either live or playback of the incident. Maybe a replay of the security feed?

On-the-ground video started after the malfunction.


I hit the kill switch a couple of times when I was very young… Sorry Glass Block department store…


Things which affect people are newsworthy because they affect people. I think that’s enough of a reason why it’s relevant. Journalism is ideally not meant to be entertainment.