THE AUSTRALIAN government has ended fears that the Indian Pacific passenger rail service might be scrapped by announcing plans to spend pounds 4.7m 'to re-establish it as one of the world's great journeys'.

The prime minister, Paul Keating, said the two-year project to upgrade the service would help to establish the 2,700-mile trip, linking Sydney and Perth, as an important tourist attraction. The 65- hour journey features the world's longest piece of straight train track, a 300-mile stretch of steel across the Nullarbor Plain. Only the Trans-Siberian railway is longer.