Nothing stirs me up more that persons looking over the border fence and with airs of superiority telling SA how to run its transport system. It was their choice of NSW narrow Gauge which stuffed up the rail system in SA. It fractured an already ailing network that in many instances had outlived its usefulness. SA had no mineral traffic to cross subsidise passenger operating costs.Mt. Barker is now 36,000 and I believe it's the fastest growing town outside of the Adelaide metro area. That's despite the fact that the state government had a policy to keep rampant development out of the Hills water table...
A standard gauge service to Mt Barker using 3000 class cars freed up from the Gawler electrification might be viable in the longer term.
It must be very hard to live in SA with such a chip on their shoulders. 30,000 is not a town rather a city and believe it or not in other parts of the country those "cities" have rail services for passengers and even freight. I cannot understand why SA people appear to be so anti-rail.
Buy a couple of explorers and run some services and you may just see how popular they could become. Mount Barker is one which could work.
Orange has 40,000 and a rail service (not too disimilar)
Broken Hill has 17,000 and a service
Griffith has 20,000 and a service
Echuca has 14,000 and a service
Ararat has 8000 and a service
Bathurst at 36,000 and a service
Maryborough Vic 8000 and a service
Swan Hill 10000 and a service
Port Augusta 13,000 no service
Whyalla, 22,000 no service
Mount Gambier 22,000
Port Pirie 14,000 no service
The problem is your idealistic government without vision.
Why don;t we dispense with the idea people outside of SA don't understand SA and make some comparisons which I just did.
Others have already said authoritatively that a rail service from Mt Barker on the present infrastructure is not viable, too slow, buses are quicker and provide a service to where people want to go.
As for town comparisons, interesting but hardly useful. Unlike NSW correspondents on this topic I have lived in Whyalla. I was even part of a campaign to keep the then passenger service running to Whyalla. I and my family had even used the train, most hadn't.
In my latter years I have moved back to the country. At various times in my life I have spent long periods working in Melbourne where I used the excellent public transport, but even there had to use a private vehicle to get to some places. On a few occasions I used the Overland to get to/from home in Adelaide
What I can say regarding rail to the SA country is this:
Country people do not need to go to the Big cities as often as city people might imagine.
When we do, we want the flexibility provided by our own vehicle.
We would rather facilities be improved in our regions than have better transport to use facilities in Adelaide. (See below)
At best a rail service from Whyalla to Adelaide would take 4 hours while one can fly there in one hour. Air travel gives one a full business day at either end, rail (unless TGV) can't do that.
The cost of a rail vehicle is some $millions. For that price a regional hospital can have CAT scan machine or an MRI machine. The cost of two or three vehicles, a train, would provide a radiation therapy suite.
I don't have to do a poll to know what regional people want.