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New Zealand Rail Had to Close Its Open-air Viewing Cars Because Passengers Were Taking Dangerous Selfies

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 4/22/2019 Cailey Rizzo
a man and a woman posing for a picture: New Zealand Railway, Tranz Alpine © Courtesy of Kiwi Rail New Zealand Railway, Tranz Alpine

New Zealand’s Kiwi Rail closed its outdoor viewing carriages in an attempt to stop passengers leaning out of the train to take high-risk selfies.

“In recent months, we've seen more passengers placing themselves in danger by leaning out of the viewing carriage to take photographs,” the train line said in an announcement. “The safety of our passengers is hugely important and despite a number of safety signs and announcements on board our trains, we're still seeing this happen and can't risk the possibility of an incident.”

The 217-mile route from Picton to Christchurch is known for being particularly scenic. The Coastal Pacific railway route features vertiginous views of green mountains as the track hugs the Pacific coast, with views of the ocean almost directly underneath the train.

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People are leaning out of the carriages with cameras in hand, waiting for the perfect backdrop to snap their pictures. But these riders are “unaware of an approaching tunnel which could cause a tragic incident for themselves, and others in the carriage,” the general manager for KiwiRail told The Independent.

The rail company has launched a review to consider new ways to keep tourists safe. Possibilities in consideration include glass windows, rails, or other form of barrier.

In the meantime, the viewing carriages will continue to travel on the trains because generators that power the train’s lighting, refrigeration, and air-conditioning are installed in each. Passengers just won’t be able to access them.

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