On the practical side to GRS it allows the car set to be serviced mid week and not on Sunday. The savings in servicing cost would well off set any lost revenue.
Then there are the other savings. Staff will have to be redeployed; but with only 4 day running only one full crew would be needed.
Interesting that you bring up the issue of Sundays. It would be, in my opinion, better to run the return leg from Melbourne on a Sunday instead of a Saturday. One of the major reasons that people like to travel to Melbourne is for big concerts and sporting events that aren't on in Adelaide or the regional areas in between.
Ticket prices for Melbourne-Adelaide flights on a Sunday are expensive, and those flights have almost no seats allocated to low fares because they fill up even with full prices. If the Overland was to operate the return journey on the Sunday instead of the Saturday, it opens up at least a little bit of competition against very high airfares compared to Saturdays when flights are underbooked and cheaper airfares are available. It could herald a return to the days of less than 10 years ago when the Overland was a quite normal form of transport for Adelaide Crows fans and the members received a small discount as part of GSR's sponsorship of the club.
For a big game or a show in Melbourne on a Saturday (day or night), I would seriously consider the Overland as a viable option if I could stay in a YHA not far from Southern Cross over Saturday night and get on the train the next morning. Hell, even a reclining seat on a midnight departure arriving back in Adelaide around 10am on Sunday morning would be better than paying $100+ extra for a Sunday flight.
is one able to exercise a choice for a window seat, with them not taking your booking and money if they don't have one?
if they don't have that, then the risk would certainly put me off. that the trip is not scenic i'd agree, but 11 hours looking at wood laminate or similar would have most people going postal by the time they hit geelong or murray bridge.
On their web booking system there certainly isn't a seat map before you get to the point where they start asking for personal information. Unless it's a surprise bonus page that's not in the booking step progress list at the top of the screen, there isn't one after the point of no return either. They also lose points in my book for being even more opaque about their various service fees and charges than even the average airline.
Seat selection is something that is a normal everyday part of life on regular timetabled commuter services in other countries, it's astonishing that a trans-national megacorp like Serco can't do it for trains that they apparently think are luxury hotels on wheels.
I'd be surprised if I made it to Goodwood (departing Keswick).
The time I would last could be that short, but it could depend on how long they take faffing around with the Motorail wagons and what sedatives I had conned some doctor into prescribing.
Of course, if our luxury hotels on wheels (more accurately a divey roadhouse on wheels for the Overland) had at-seat power sockets and onboard wifi access like many inter-regional trains do in Europe then people might be able to survive that a little longer instead of having to ration the battery life of their favoured electronic device/s over the course of the journey.
Given the money both governments pay out to keep the existing service going would that money be better spent elsewhere on the rail network, for example, in finishing Gawler electrification (for SA)? Similarly I'm sure V-Line could find better uses for that money, even a daily return DMU from Dimboola to Ararat or Geelong would be money better spent than a two-day a week tourist train.
This constant talk of funding electrification with every tiny cut is approaching the ridiculous. I wouldn't bet on getting any more than 25 metres of wiring from axing the Overland subsidy.
A better option would be to turn off the golden tap and kill the GSR Overland pitched at the blue rinse crowd, then resurrect the name for an SA-subsidised V/Line service using gauge-convertible DEMUs running from Adelaide station and using the direct route via Ballarat. Add in 140-160 km/h running on the good sections of the route through western Victoria and south-east SA and a competitive trip time needing only one meal en route becomes possible.