By mostly restricting V/Line trains to the stretch between Traralgon and Pakenham, you can effectively double the frequency of Gippsland services without spending a penny on extra drivers or rolling stock.
Any introduction of Metro Services to WV or Fast Rail to Geelong with release dozens of set for use across the V/line network.
Let me emphasise: this IS going to happen once the new tunnel opens. The only question is how many V/Line trains, if any, will be granted paths between Flinders Street and Pakenham. My money is on Bairnsdale plus a few Traralgon peaks remaining as through-trains.
Let me emphasise, this WONT happen. For two reasons:
1. HCS - Bombarider CityFlo650 is a mixed solution model that can be installed into brownfield sites and work alongside existing infrastructure until the legacy system is decommissioned. The mixed solution allows for trains sets to switch between the current CBTC fixed block and CBTC moving block or HCS. Moving block is only being installed between Watergardens & Dandenong, conventional fixed block signalling will still operate between Sunbury - Watergardens & Dandenong - Pakenham & Cranbourne. This system has been deliberately chosen to allow for mixed traffic, such as freight and regional services. Regional services will run on fixed block from Gippsland until Dandenong where in cab CBTC moving block will take over.
Thats just the minor reason.
2. The major reason this will never happen is how much politics dominate transport planing.
Frankston & Dandenong corridors are prime examples of this. The 'Sandbelt seats' seats along the Frankston like threw out the Brumby government for years of overcrowded services and 'to little, to late' These seats remained ultra marginal after the election and again threw out the liberal Naptime government for promises that were never kept. When the Andrews government promised to fix and upgrade services along the line in 2014 the 'Sandbelt seats' again switched to being marginal labor seats. Its no coincidence that the government has spent more the $2 Billion on level crossing removals and station upgrades on this corridor. The Andrews labor government was rewarded in 2018 with the seats now having decent margins.
Despite the vocal opposition to 'Sky Rail' seats along the Dandenong corridor all received a boost in margins in the 2018 election.
With that in mind, let's have a look at the Gippsland Corridor.
Gembrook - Takes in Officer Station & half the Pakenhan population, Liberal seat since 2010 now on a 1% margin.
Bass - Takes in Pakenham Station and the remainder of Pakenham, Koo Wee Rup all the way down to Cowes and Wonthaggi. Liberal since 2002, suffered a 10% swing in 2018. Now on a 5% margin and within striking distance of the labor party. Surprise that Pakenham is loosing all its level crossings and getting a new station.
Narracan - This is deep liberal territory with the current member on a 15% margin. Cant see him supporting a decrease in Gippsland services.
Morwell - Had been Labor heartland from 1970 until 2006 when the seat was lost to the Nationals. The nationals lost it in 2017 when the member became an independent candidate. The current margin is 3%, another one within reach of the Labor Party, who I'm sure are keen to get it back. I can not see the labor candidate winning if he has to explain to the people of Morwell and Traralgon they have to change trains at Pakenham.
Gippsland South & Gippsland East - deep in the heart of national territory here, both members on margins of more than 30%. Cant see them supporting a decrease in service levels. The locals still have Jeff Kennett etched in their minds.
Gippsland Services will continue to run to Flinders Street for many decades to come for the same reason that Frankston services are still in the city loop. Operational pain in the smeg, but politicly popular.