Privately Operated from 1871 - 1890, Failed.
Privately Operated from 1997 - 2009, Failed.
If you are going to go bak 100 years in history, what about mentioning under TGR, the later years would also be considered a major fail. Track in disrepair, ancient locos, wagons, failing passenger network, almost a complete lack of capital spending outside the log traffic and BB line.
Under ATN, I would have said Tasrail was probably in its boom years after years of what was looking like a slow death under fed control.
The feds cut all the old inefficient stuff out and quickly took Tasrail from a general carrier using very old stock and huge numbers to do so when switching to a modern'ish air brake rake only system. It seemed to be moving forward, however what started to hurt AN Tasrail was the dying industry in Tasmania with many a customer closing down and lack of interest by the feds to do anything too hard. I think its been stated before that if Boyer Mill had not switched to Rail, AN may have cut the southern line.
ATN was unfortunately sold to PN, why they bought it, god only knows!
I think the main failing in this whole privatisation was the off-loading of the track, both here, Vic and NZ. This will never work on a marginal operation because the operator is reluctant to throw too much at the track for fear a major customer will close/stop and with it their main reason for existence. Tracks are portable, locos and wagons are. PN was loosing wagons and locos as well as general cost and distruption to increasing number of derailments. My understand in the later era of TGR, derailments were also a major issue.
When ANTasrail was sold, the Tas govt or the feds through ARTC should have taken over the track. Tasrail I feel is not ready for above rail sale, but perhaps in a few more years when things have stabilized. At some stage it probably will happen, but not the rails.