Following completion of the standard gauge Tarcoola to Alice Springs line in 1980, the train was rerouted becoming an all standard gauge journey from Port Pirie using only modern rollingstock in the regular consists. This modern train was initially called the New Ghan on all marketing material, but eventually the New was dropped. In the late 1980s as part of a major refurbishment of the rollingstock the train was re-marketted as The Legendary Ghan.
The last narrow gauge north bound Ghan left Marree on 24 November 1980, returning south on 26 November 1980.
On their website in 2006 Great Southern Railway described their history as follows:
In late 1997, Great Southern Railway was the successful bidder for the Passenger Rail business of Australian National. This made Great Southern Railway the first government owned transcontinental passenger business to be privatised in Australia. Great Southern Railway originally consisted of a consortium of Australian and International financiers, operators and service providers. These partners all contributed solid financial backing. In October 1999, Serco Asia Pacific bought out the other partners, placing the company in a strong position for future growth.