This has gone exactly
as I predicted.
I threw the idea out into the arena as an exercise, but I do not see it as a viable proposition. Quite simply, the capital expense is not worth it. It is not a sensible way to spend precious public transport funding.
Firstly, it is impractical for the V/Line operations outside the Geelong and Ballarat lines because the infrastructure would not be supporting very high traffic in terms of total trains per hour. The Geelong and Ballarat lines were selected because they deliver the most up trains by far during morning peak of the five commuter lines, with each timetabled to operate eight up trains arriving at Southern Cross between 07:00 and 09:00 on weekday mornings. For comparison, the Bendigo line provides five such trains; Seymour three; and Traralgon three, one of which terminates short at Flinders Street.
The distance of the operation stretches out - quite literally! - the required infrastructure. This is exacerbated by the 1500V system used by the metropolitan network, necessitating either the adoption of inefficient legacy equipment, or further expenditure on dual-voltage systems. All these factors work together to increase the cost and reduce the practicality of converting V/Line commuter services to electric traction.
Secondly, such an investment would result in heavy redundancies of relatively new diesel multiple-unit rolling stock in the form of the V/Locities, which cannot be fully redeployed on other V/Line services, such was the scale of investment in them. Much was invested in this rolling stock, and they perform well. There is therefore no pressing need to replace the rolling stock on the commuter services, barring additional procurement of newer V/Locity stock to replace older locomotive-hauled stock, such as the push-pull commuter trains; such investments would complement, rather than conflict with, the existing investments.
It therefore would appear quite convincingly that the current investments in V/Line are sensible, that the focus on separation from the metropolitan network and investment in additional V/Locity stock is the correct path to follow, and that electrification is not the correct way forward.