Just for some clarity and context, these figures are fairly relevant.Maryborough
- Population 7,921 - 224km from MelbourneDunolly
- Population 893 - 246km from MelbourneSt Arnaud
- Population 2,193 - 299km from MelbourneDonald
- Population 1,498 - 337km from MelbourneBirchip
- Population 700 - 389km from MelbourneOuyen
- Population 1,045 - 508km from MelbourneMildura
(urban area) - Population 51,903 - 609km from Melbourne
All population figures are from the 2016 ABS Census, Km figures are sourced from Vicsig and are measured via Bacchus Marsh.
-- -- --
Based on that alone, an extension from Maryborough to Dunolly is not justifiable. Neither for that matter is St Arnaud on it's own.
The only extension that I can see as justifiable on that line, would be to Donald, with intermediate stations at Dunolly and St Arnaud being re-opened. This would provide an additional catchment area of 4,500 people, or more than 50% of the current Maryborough line. Of course this would require the North Geelong to Maryborough line via Ballarat to be gauge converted and for rolling stock to be acquired, neither of which is likely any time soon.
Of course, I am aware that raw population figures alone don't equal prospective passenger numbers, but without a more detailed study, that is all we have to go on for now.