The first sod was turned yesterday in Australia's newest railway project. The 1400km (900 mile) link between Alice Springs and Darwin. This will link Alice Springs (pop 20,000) with Darwin (pop 45,000) with a single line costing $1.4 billion. It is expected to be completed by the end 2003, with contruction rate of more the 1.6 kms (1 mile) of track per day. The current world record for track contruction is still held by Australia. Crossing the Nullabor Plain when 2 miles of track were contructed each day back in 1911. (well there was nothing there to knock down or curve around). This stretch across the Nullabor is still the longest straight stretch of railway in the world. more the 500kms (300 miles). Australia also holds the world record for the lastest/delayed train. The Ghan Passenger train arrived more than 6 months late when floods washed most of the Adelaide/Alice Springs line away in (I think) 1973. Anyway, It wasn't more than 6 months after they opened the "new" Adelaide/Alice Springs "flood proof" standard gauge line, which replaced the flood prone narrow guage line originally constructed in 1922. TOOT!