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A large crowd has gathered at Adelaide's main interstate rail terminal to watch the departure of the first passenger train from Adelaide to Darwin.
The Australian Youth Choir opened official celebrations at Keswick Rail Terminal, where hundreds of onlookers waited to watch the Ghan depart.
All aboard ... the Ghan is the longest passenger train in Australian history. (ABC TV)
The train's trip marks the realisation of a century-old dream to link Australia's north and south for train travel.
South Australian Governor Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, Premier Mike Rann and Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin are among those making the trip.
Hundreds of people have taken vantage points beside the rail line to watch the train pull out, many of them waving Australian and Ghan flags.
Mr Rann says the Ghan has attracted local, interstate and overseas travellers eager to traverse one of the world's last great railway frontiers, after a delay of almost 100 years.
"It's a line that people said would never ever happen," Mr Rann said.
"It was nicknamed the 'Never Never train' because of where it was supposed to go and because [they] thought it would never happen ... well, the Never Never train is a reality and now passengers and tourists can enjoy it."
The one-kilometre long train - the longest passenger train in Australian history - was divided across three platforms to fit into the Keswick station.
'Cost a few bob'
Many of the 330 passengers have paid up to $12,000 each for the privilege of joining the Ghan's inaugural trip but South Australian pensioner Brian Boude says he does not regret the expense.
"We're lucky to be on board, [it's] just a minimal fee, well it cost a few bob ... we're only taking it out of the kid's inheritance," he said.
Every passenger on today's journey received a special souvenir kit with a certificate and medallion to commemorate the occasion.
Official celebrations are planned at each stop until the 43 carriages and two locomotives arrive in Darwin on Tuesday afternoon.
Great Southern Rail's marketing manager, Anthony Kirschner, says every effort has been made to make the journey a memorable one.
"We're actually catering for 600 guests in the round trip," he said. "We've got eight on-board chefs, which freshly prepare the on-train meals and we've got 40 crew in total on board the train.
"There's a lot of work behind the scenes."
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