The Ghan

Sunday, 27 August 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Bon voyage, Hotels
Reading Time:  5 minutes

The Ghan at Alice Springs © Bahnfrend/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Ghan at Alice Springs © Bahnfrend/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Ghan is an experiential tourism-oriented passenger train service that operates between the northern and southern coasts of Australia, through the cities of Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin on the Adelaide–Darwin rail corridor. Operated by Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions, its scheduled travelling time, including extended stops for passengers to do off-train tours, is 53 hours 15 minutes to travel the 2,979 kilometres (1,851 mi). The Ghan has been described as one of the world’s great passenger trains.

The service’s name is an abbreviated version of its previous nickname, The Afghan Express. The nickname is reputed to have been bestowed in 1923 by one of its crews. Some suggest the train’s name honours Afghan camel drivers who arrived in Australia in the late 19th century to help the British colonists find a way to reach the country’s interior. A contrary view is that the name was a veiled insult. In 1891, the railway from Quorn reached remote Oodnadatta where an itinerant population of around 150 cameleers were based, generically called “Afghans”. “The Ghan Express” name originated with train crews in the 1890s as a taunt to officialdom because, when an expensive sleeping car was put on from Quorn to Oodnadatta, “on the first return journey the only passenger was an Afghan”, mocking its commercial viability. By as early as 1924, because of the notorious unreliability of this fortnightly steam train, European pastoralists commonly called it “in ribald fashion The Afghan Express”. By 1951, when steam engines were replaced by diesel-electric locomotives, this disparaging derivation, like the cameleers, had faded away. Modern marketing has completed the name turnabout.

The Ghan train in Central Australia © flickr.com - Roderick Eime/cc-by-2.0 The Ghan at Alice Springs © Bahnfrend/cc-by-sa-4.0 The Ghan at Alice Springs © Bahnfrend/cc-by-sa-4.0 The Ghan in Darwin © Tourism NT First-class restaurant car © Reinhard Dietrich The Ghan at the Adelaide Parklands Terminal © Reinhard Dietrich
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The Ghan train in Central Australia © flickr.com - Roderick Eime/cc-by-2.0
The Ghan was privatised in 1997 and has since then been operated by Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions (formerly known as Great Southern Rail), initially as part of the Serco Group. Great Southern Rail was sold to Allegro Funds, a Sydney investment fund, in March 2015. The train usually runs once weekly. During December 2012 and January 2013, it ran only once every two weeks. Until 2016, a second service operated between June and September, recommencing again in May 2019 due to demand. The train stops at Adelaide, Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin; the stops at Alice Springs and Katherine allow time for passengers to take optional tours. Each train has an average of 28 stainless steel carriages, built by Comeng, Granville, in the late 1960s and early 1970s for the Indian Pacific, plus a motorail wagon. The average length of the train is 774 metres (2,539 ft). Two Pacific National NR class locomotives haul the train, previously AN class or a DL class locomotives assisted. Locomotive crews are sourced from Pacific National, with the on-train staff employed by Journey Beyond.

Construction of Alice Springs–Darwin line was believed to be the second-largest civil engineering project in Australia, and the largest since the creation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Line construction began in July 2001, with the first passenger train reaching Darwin on 3 February 2004, after 126 years of planning and waiting and at a cost of $1.3 billion. The Ghan‘s arrival in Darwin signified a new era of tourism in the Northern Territory, making travel to the region easier and more convenient. The rail link will allow for more freight to travel through the region, leading to a hope that Darwin will serve as another trade link with Asia. In preparation for the connection to Darwin, one of the locomotives was named after wildlife expert Steve Irwin, an international symbol of outback Australia, to promote the new service and tourism to the region.

Read more on JourneyBeyondRail.com.au – The Ghan, NorthernTerritory.com – The Ghan rail journey, Australia.com – 3 days on board The Ghan train, Wikivoyage Across Australia by train and Wikipedia The Ghan (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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