In 2000, the AustralAsia Rail Corporation awarded the contract to build and operate the Adelaide to Darwin railway as a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) project to the Asia Pacific Transport Consortium, which in turn awarded the contract to FreightLink to build and operate the project.
FreightLink commenced operations in January 2004 on the Darwin-Tarcoola line. FreightLink had intermodal terminals at Adelaide, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, and Darwin. It performed marketing, integrated service management and management of service providers. A number of operational activities were outsourced to specialist providers including train and terminal management, port terminal operations and rail maintenance.
In May 2008 the Consortium of banks and infrastructure companies behind Freightlink decided to sell the railway and its operating company In June 2008 FreightLink announced that it would add an extra weekly rail service between Adelaide and Darwin due to growing demand, taking the total number of services to six.
During November 2008 the company was placed into voluntary administration. This resulted in FreightLink's bankers exercising their rights to appoint a receiver, KordaMentha which then took control of the company, as the deal to sell the company fell through after the a small number of the banks funding Freightlink refused to the terms of the sale to the preferred bidder.
Freightlink Australia is not the same as the UK freight ferry ticket agency Freightlink which is based in the UK and trades in freight ferries for general haulage.
Diesel locomotives owned by FreightLink included:
- 4x FQ class mainline units (new build Downer EDI Rail GT46C)
- 2x FJ class shunters (second hand WAGR J class)
- Vesna Poljak and Michael Smith (19 May 2008). "Banks force sale of $1.2bn Adelaide- Darwin rail link". The Australian Financial Review. p. 1 and 19.
- "Extra Adel-Darwin rail service starts". ABC News. www.abc.net.au. 24 June 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
- Freightlink Pty Ltd - Press release 8 November 2008
- "FreightLink goes into administration". ABC News. www.abc.net.au. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
- "FreightLink-owned Adelaide-Darwin railway to be sold to US company Genesee & Wyoming". Adelaidenow. 9 June 2010.
- "Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Signs Agreement to Acquire FreightLink". PRNewswire. 9 June 2010.
- Freightlink.co.uk Freightlink Homepage for freight ferries December, 2013
- "VICSIG - Locomotives - FreightLink". www.vicsig.net. Retrieved 26 October 2009.