Scenic New Zealand Train Closes Open-Air Carriages After Risky Tourist Selfies

May 8, 2019

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KiwiRail’s Great Journeys of New Zealand, a train operator known to transport tourists through some of the country’s most scenic locations, stated in April that it would be nixing all outdoor viewing carriages due to passengers’ safety concerns.

CNN reports that this is specifically tied to some dangerous “near misses” caused by overzealous selfie-takers.

“A review carried out over recent months revealed an increasing number of passengers putting themselves and others in danger by leaning out of the carriage to take photographs,” Katie McMahon, KiwiRail’s “Director of Zero Harm,” told CNN in a statement. McMahon also stressed that despite the number of signs and announcements aboard the trains warning passengers to stop to keep their limbs (and iPhones) in the vehicle at all time, tourists can’t seem to help themselves.

“We have seen passengers leaning out with selfie sticks, iPads and their bodies, often unaware of an approaching tunnel which could cause a tragic incident for themselves, and others in the carriage,” added McMahon.

Scenic train ride along Pacific ocean coast in Canterbury region, South Island of New Zealand — naumoid/Getty images
Scenic train ride along Pacific ocean coast in Canterbury region, South Island of New Zealand — naumoid/Getty images

These changes will affect four major train routes operated by Great Journeys throughout the country. These include the Coastal Pacific, which runs from Christchurch to Picton on the South Island, and the TranzAlpine, which cuts through the Canterbury Plains.

This isn’t the first instance in recent memory in which selfie-takers proved hazardous to the point of government intervention. “Selfie seats” at the Cliffs of Moher were proposed in Ireland as a safety measure after an incident in which a tourist fell to their death by losing his footing while taking a photo of himself. And in California, the wildflower super bloom aroused near mass-hysteria in the area with not only injuries amid selfie-stick toting tourists — but the poppies as well. From this, Lake Elsinore was prompted to “close everything” to prevent further damages.

In 2018, medical researchers called for ‘no-selfie zones’ at tourist sites. According to research, around 259 people had died between October 2011 and November 2017 while taking selfies — a statistic researchers called “just the tip of the iceberg,” with the possibility of there being many undocumented selfie-deaths.

For now, there is currently no timeline in place for when the open-air carriages will be converted into closed versions, but Great Journeys intends to continue to grant tourists access to the picturesque mountain New Zealand views. Just from behind a glass window.

Featured image by naumoid via Getty Images.

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