The express was not advertised and does not appear in the timetable. Almost all trains on the Craigieburn line which are advertised stop at all stations.
It is normal to run additional trains to cater for expected peak demand usually sporting events and at new year. Those are timed and pathed as required by the event and while they will appear in the weekly traffic circular which is available to operating staff who need it they will not be advertised widely. They sometimes but not always appear on the PTV / Metro website and via the Metro phone app.
The train in question was provided for the benefit of persons travelling to Moonee Valley races which is why it was not booked to stop at most stations beyond Moonee Ponds. It cannot overtake the timetabled service in front so cannot be faster overall. If it were able to leave two minutes ahead of the service train then it could gain time but there is no pathway for it to do so; other trains must also share the same tracks / cross the same junctions.
The train ran through to Craigieburn because that is where the stabling facility is. Similar trains ran in the up direction after the event.
Those express trains which appear in the published timetable normally do offer a time saving over all-stations trains. As an example the Frankston expresses which do not stop between Cheltenham and Caulfield and Malvern (morning only) to South Yarra save typically 7 minutes by skipping 10-11 stops.
There are in addition a number of unadvertised trains to Craigieburn each weekday after the morning peak and which skip most stations. There are non-PSR (not part of the Passenger Service Requirement) services available to the public but which do not appear in the timetables nor on the apps. Some regulars are aware of them. They exist to get trains and drivers back to the depot after the morning peak but again they cannot overtake a stopping train and are often no faster end-to-end. Similar arrangements exist on some other lines including to Upfield and Epping and terminating there not South Morang because of the depot.
The train was 'advertised' as it was in the timetable and also on the information screens at Flinders Street.
I caught the 1352 as I was unable to find out the stopping pattern of the 1354 until after the 1352 had departed. (Always catch the first train - there may not be another one!).
This is now probably an item fro the 'Armchair Operators' but the following surprised me:
Why the express did not run via Spion Kop and overtake the 1352 in the process.
Why the express did not run via 1 or 2 platforms at Essendon and overtake the 1352 in the process. I assume that Essendon would be switched out or not competently staffed.
Why an express was tabled 2 minutes longer North Melbourne to Craigieburn than an all stations despite not stopping at 13 of the 14 stations on the route.
No doubt there are reasons and it is, of course, a hypothetical exercise now but it did seem strange to me. Everything was running late anyway.
Keep up your usually well informed posts, please.
Keep smiling - it's only a game.