Cuts to Ghan service could derail Outback economies

Published: August 8, 2015

Parts of regional Australia will become even more reliant on the money spent by grey nomads travelling in their motorhomes or towing caravans when Outback rail services are slashed next year.

From July, 2016,, services on the Great Southern Rail’s desert-crossing Ghan will be halved to once a week during peak periods, the same frequency as off-peak periods. Ticket prices for pensioners and war veterans will also rise sharply following the federal government’s withdrawal of subsidies.

Trips on GSR’s Indian Pacific between Sydney, Adelaide and Perth will also be reduced to once a week, all year round.

A company spokesman confirmed the drop in demand was expected to be 20%.

Almost half of travellers on the Ghan and Indian Pacific routes currently receive some benefit, with 95% of them getting a 30% reduction in fares.

Among the worst fare hikes, the cost of a sleeper berth for a war veteran travelling from Adelaide to Broken Hill will soar from $83 to $969.

Milton Hawke, who runs small bus tours in Broken Hill told the ABC that he was worried about what might happen to the Outback economy if visitor numbers drop.

“The interior of Australia relies basically on tourists, and if they can’t get here, how can we prop up our businesses?” he said. “We all survive on that Indian, the train services in general.”

Tourism Central Australia general ­manager Jaclyn Thorne has also expressed concern.

“I’m disappointed for both GSR who have spent a lot of money and effort in the past few years revitalising their offer and product, as well as Central Australian ­operators who will be affected by these cuts,” Ms Thorne said.

  • Have you ever travelled on one of these trains? Do you think the towns near the affected rail lines will be even more dependent on the grey nomad dollar? Comment below.


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Len Prossor
7 years ago

My coment is that WE have travelled on the Ghan 4 separate times and thoughrly enjoyed the travel but with the huge hike in fares – It puts a different outlook on things – and we think that we can travel a bloody lot ferther in our motor home !!

7 years ago


Elizabeth Murphy
7 years ago

Wow, this Government does do things by stealth, don’t they? Don’t remember seeing this being reported anywhere.

7 years ago

Only Politicians will be travel on these railways, especially WA pollies

Alan Hubbard
7 years ago
Reply to  Peter

why would +(especially) WA politicians travel on the ghan ? it doesnt go anywhere near that state, so why “especially”?

Suzanne Campbell
7 years ago

Would have loved to go on the Ghan but tooooo expensive. Agree with Len ~ get a lot further for your dollar in a motorhome.
If the Tourism organisations in the towns that will be affected got together and developed a touring route that offered RVers free/low costs camping areas, the money would flow back into the towns.

John Eller
7 years ago

Will be going on the Indian Pacific in November and the Ghan well before July next year. Nice work Abbott. I am a War Vet, and was looking forward to the Ghan. Another thing you have ruined for us. Please don’t stand to any troops with your supersilious grin for your photo opportunity when they are heading off to Afghanistan. It makes a mockery of their service.

Alan Hubbard
7 years ago

Cmon if the service isn’t making a profit they have to do something to stop them going broke – maybe we rv’ers arent contributing because we go by road?
I’m sure if more people used the rail service NOW, the govt might consider keeping the costs lower so more can use it. If the prices go up as expected, we can start waving goodbye to what the majority see as an ‘attraction’ and the locals see as a “necessity”,
I dont think we can blame the government (regardless of which colour) for this — its probably lack of patronage …. now, if the railway cared to look outside the square it could probably boost that patronage, but they’re just silly little cardigan-wearing office workers in some capital city, who really don’t care.

Jen Chambers
6 years ago

When ever I try to book on the Indian Pacific I can’t get a seat/sleeper. It’s always booked on dates I want to travel. Also oodles of cruise passengers travel from or to perth on the IP as part of their trip. So I don’t see how it could be losing money. A very retrograde step back to the dark ages if you ask me.


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