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Roller coaster to reopen 9 months on, despite crash

A U.K. roller coaster is set to reopen just nine months after a crash that seriously injured five people.

Customers at Alton Towers will be able to ride "The Smiler", the "world's first 14 loop roller coaster" at the Staffordshire-based theme park once again in less than three weeks, when the park reopens for 2016.

"The Smiler" rollercoaster, at Alton Towers Resort, U.K.
Christopher Furlong | Getty Images Europe | Getty Images
"The Smiler" rollercoaster, at Alton Towers Resort, U.K.

"The Smiler will reopen for the 2016 season which starts on 19th March," a Merlin Entertainments spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNBC.

The £18 million ($25.1 million) ride was shut down in June, after a carriage with 16 passengers collided with an empty, stationary carriage.

All 16 individuals faced some form of injury with five being seriously hurt, including one man who needed treatment for a collapsed lung, and two women who had to undergo leg amputations.

Following the crash, the attraction undertook its own investigation and published results last November, saying they found "no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself."

"The investigation concluded that the incident was the result of human error culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed," a statement in response to the report said.

In the hope of re-opening "The Smiler", Alton Towers said in November that it would incorporate "an extensive set of new safety measures."

This includes technical improvements (CCTV cameras, manual reset buttons) and enhanced training, alongside an "additional level of authorization", that makes sure no manual override process could be completed without a senior member of staff being in attendance and authorizing the procedure.

Despite its own investigations, the Health and Safety Executive announced last Thursday that Alton Towers' owner, Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd, would face prosecution on April 22 for "breaching health and safety law."

In response to last week's announcement, Merlin Entertainments said it was continuing to support to those who were hurt in the crash.

"We have cooperated fully with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) throughout their investigation while continuing to support those who were injured in the accident," a spokesperson said in a statement, emailed to CNBC.

"We have also kept the HSE fully informed of the subsequent actions that we have taken to ensure that something like this cannot happen again."

Merlin Entertainments, the world's second largest visitor attraction operator who owns the park, has had to make several cost-cutting measures after a fall off in visitor numbers at the park. This includes staff redundancies and restructuring.

Despite the crash, the operator managed to make a slight profit in 2015, thanks to its other popular attractions, including LEGOLAND, Madame Tussauds and London Eye.

By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her @AlexGibbsy and @CNBCi