One of New Zealand's most-loved miniature railways has been shut down over health and safety fears.
The attraction would have been enjoying the peak season for visitors but WorkSafe New Zealand has decided to close the Kapiti Coast miniature railway. It comes as a real blow for the not-for-profit site and members of the Kapiti Miniature Railway & Model Engineering Society which runs the attraction believe the move is a cynical decision while other members have been left "surprised and dismayed".
WorkSafe New Zealand recently took over from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and looks after safety function. Investigators involved in the decision explained that an enquiry was launched when a family was tipped from a train turning a corner in September 2013. While no-one was injured it highlighted that there were some safety concerns among people attending the attraction.
The organisation's chief investigations inspector Alan Cooper explained that had failed to maintain the railway "under the Amusement Devices Regulations", which is a requirement when carrying passengers, after it was briefly closed in 2008. However, the owners of the attraction highlighted that there have only been two incidents of note in the 35 years it has been open.
Laurie Barson, an executive committee member of the Kapiti Miniature Railway & Model Engineering Society, explained that around 55,000 people ride the train every year and admitted that there are problems with making people stick to the rules.
"We do not have problems with children but adults do not listen to what you tell them," Mr Bason said.
Both Australia and New Zealand are emerging markets when it comes to model railway collections. Like with the UK and the US there has been a rise in the amount of people purchasing these products to create intricate landscapes that replicate some of the most striking areas of the country.