The Ghan Train
Formerly the Afghan Express, The Ghan takes its name from the pioneering
Afghan cameleers who blazed a permanent trail into the Red Centre of
Australia over 150 years ago. The
Ghan's emblem is an Afghan on a camel in recognition of their efforts in
opening up the inhospitable interior to the rest of Australia.
The original Ghan line followed the route of explorer John MacDouall
Stuart. On Sunday 4 August 1929, an excited crowd gathered at the
Adelaide Railway Station to farewell the first Ghan train. This train
carried supplies and over 100 passengers bound for the remote town of
Stuart, later to be called Alice Springs. The train's whistle pierced
the silence of the MacDonnell Ranges surrounding Alice Springs two days
later on August 6. The train was steam hauled, and had to contend with
extreme conditions including flash flooding and intense heat and, as
such, was often an irregular service.
The Old Ghan ran on its light, narrow gauge track well to the east of the
track it travels today. As
well as termite damage, it was savaged by fire and flood. Flash flooding, when the normally parched river beds spilled
out onto the low lying desert plains, frequently washed away the track
completely. Legend has it
the Old Ghan was once stranded for two weeks in one spot and the engine
driver shot wild goats to feed his passengers.
In 1982. The Old Ghan rail track was abandoned in
favor of a new standard gauge
line built with termite proof concrete sleepers further to the west in
order to avoid the potential flooding and other problems encountered
along the old route.
Ghan currently operates twice weekly with return services from Adelaide
to Alice Springs.
We were told the inaugural trip from Adelaide to Darwin is sold
out at $12,000 per ticket.
Length of journey (Alice Springs to Adelaide): 1559km Time:
Passenger Capacity: (Standard
Carriages (standard train):
Average Length of Train: 403
Average Weight of Train: 735 Tonnes (ex. Locomotive and Motorail)