The New South Wales state government is in a situation where it would be politically unacceptable to eliminate the grossly under-performing regional rail services due to the domineering influence of country whingers.
I am sure this discussion has been had before, and while it is true that the service is under-performing, slow and very unreliable at times, a stereotypical description of users of the service as 'country whingers' is not correct. While I understand that it is not possible to run a train direct to the door of every resident of the state, nor should the government be expected to provide a first-class service for little or no cost to the passenger, the use of trains over coaches does have its advantages to many passengers.
I personally know of a number of elderly people whose preferred mode of travel is by train, simply because in their old age they are not suited to coach travel. For families travelling with young children, I can only imagine the horror of travel sickness and boredom that would arise out of a long coach journey, whereas by train it is very rare to be sick and much easier to keep kids entertained with more space to move around. For those with disabilities or mobility issues, a coach can be a very difficult way to travel as it is much more difficult to board and alight from a coach than a train when your movement is not at its best. The toilets on coaches are very often not available for use and when they are they can create a stench that permeates through the entire vehicle. While the buffet on XPTs and Xplorers is not exactly a dining car of days gone by, I for one would rather be served a hot meal on board a train than dumped at a motorway service station during a coach trip with the choice of McDonalds or an over-priced 'cafe' for lunch.
I am not advocating that going a billion dollars into the red to provide a transport service is no worse than going one dollar into the red. But there has to be a balance between cost-effectiveness and service effectiveness made. For some, government public transport services are the only option for travel.
By the way, when my local train (Armidale Xplorer) is replaced by a coach, the coach is invariably very late while the train is quite often on time.
I don't want to derail this thread, but I just wanted to politely point out the challenges that face many users of our country trains and hence why they are a necessary thing for many.