As part of the privatisation of the Australian National Railway Commission the assets of AN Tasrail were sold to a private consortium, Australian Transport Network (established as an investment vehicle by Wisconsin Central Railway of the USA) trading as TasRail Pty Ltd, which began operations on Saturday 15 November 1997. The land over which the track is laid reverted to the State Government of Tasmania.
In February 2002, the mainly Australian Government-owned National Rail Corporation's freight operations and rolling stock were combined with the New South Wales Government-owned FreightCorp and sold to Toll Holdings and Patrick Corporation as Pacific National. In 2004, Pacific National purchased Australian Transport Network, operator of TasRail.
In 2005 Pacific National threatened to withdraw services unless a substantial subsidy was paid by government to cover the cost of infrastructure maintenance. In May 2007, after protracted negotiations, the Tasmanian Government, the Federal Government and Pacific National came to an agreement regarding the funding, ownership and operation of the Tasmanian railway network; with the State of Tasmania acquiring the railway infrastructure and Pacific National (now part of Asciano following a restructure of Toll Holdings after its takeover of Patrick Corporation) continuing to provide freight services on the network.
In September 2009 the Tasmanian Government and Pacific National (Asciano) formally entered into an agreement for purchase of the Tasmanian rail business, with rail infrastructure and railway operations to be maintained, managed and owned by a new State-owned rail company, Tasmanian Railway Pty Ltd trading as TasRail.