KiwiRail engineers have developed a solution which will allow the popular open-air viewing carriages on our Great Journeys of New Zealand tourism services to re-open safely.
Following a number of proactive near-miss reports on our scenic rail services, KiwiRail reviewed the use of its outdoor viewing carriages to ensure its workers and those using the services got home safely.
While the carriages had been in use for the past 10 years, a review revealed an increasing number of passengers putting themselves and others in danger by leaning out of the carriage to take photographs.
“Despite the number of signs and announcements on board our trains pointing out the dangers of this, passengers were seen 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,” says KiwiRail Group General Manager of Zero Harm Katie McMahon.
As a result, KiwiRail decided to review the design of the viewing platforms with a view to making any necessary upgrades and changes to ensure the safety of passengers.
While this was underway, in March KiwiRail took the proactive step of closing the viewing platforms.
“Our teams have been working at speed to find a solution, and we’re pleased that they have come up with a way that people can safely continue to enjoy our viewing carriages.
“The solution involves installing a new handrail design which will ensure passengers can still experience the delight of being outdoors in New Zealand’s stunning scenery, while at the same time keeping them safe and restricting their ability to extend themselves or their photographic equipment outside of the carriage.
“The new carriage design will be installed on all five of our viewing carriages over the coming weeks.
“Work started immediately after the new carriage design was approved, and we hope to have the first vehicle completed by the end of May. A timeline is yet to be confirmed on which services the carriages will be deployed on first.
“Thank you to our passengers for their patience during this time. We know some have been disappointed that they have not been able to use these outdoor carriages while a solution is being put in place. We offer our heartfelt apologies to them, but we cannot risk a safety incident.”