Congratulations to the producers of “Great Trains - The Ghan” shown on TV (Thursday, February 16). The meticulous attention to detail in the preparation of this trip before leaving Adelaide is proof the railways meet a demandingly high standard to ensure the safety of its passengers.
Everything works like clockwork: and every team has a responsibility. Even the time of departure has to be precise and is non-negotiable. Every aspect of the train is checked, from changing the linen, cleaning the cabins; to ensure there is impeccable dining car service; to see the bars are well stocked; the fruit and vegetables of the highest quality and that the meat and fish are chilled at the appropriate temperatures.
The three gourmet chefs use only regional food and are proud to be working on The Ghan. There are teams to install and check the special refrigeration equipment so the temperature of the engines remain constant, even when the temperature in Central Australia reaches 60°. The undercarriages are checked, so there are no problems when floodwaters cross the lines.
The first stop at Port Augusta gave us wide publicity because of our historical connection. The Ghan started in Port Augusta, and it helped develop the Outback. Early footage showed camel trains heading north with supplies for people in the Outback, as well as being used to build the first line from Port Augusta to Alice Springs.
It was because the first camels were imported from and near Afghanistan that this train is called The Ghan.
The Pichi Richi railways with its original engine and carriages and manned by trained volunteers was also shown. It is mandatory that there are two engine drivers on The Ghan.
Aerial photography revealed the most amazing and diverse countryside on this rail journey from Adelaide to Darwin.
Port Augusta can be proud of its place in history as well as looking forward to the ongoing future development of this region because of this mile long train that carries freight as well as passengers through the centre of Australia. The Railway men certainly are proud, and some still get together regularly for catch-up time.
Barbara Rasmus, Port Augusta
(Pictured: The photo is of the first Ghan to Darwin at the Port Augusta Railway Station on February 1, 2004. Barbara Rasmus with another Sing Australia singer Rosemary Trzinsji, of Glenelg.)