Alright, I've been holding off on this one until I had time to treat it appropriately, so hold on, this will take a while.Firstly
, the current Sprinter service between Frankston and Stony Point is properly pathetic. Weekdays see only 10 down trains a day, the last train from Frankston on a Saturday departs as early as 7:30PM, I mean this timetable is reminiscent of a V/Line timetable circa 1996.
Now compare that with say, the current Geelong line, which has trains running at 10 minute headways in the peak, and 20 minute inter peak and considering that is still dieselised, I hardly think Stony Point is at the stage of being up for electrification just yet.
As I understand it, the primitive signalling and safeworking used on the line only allows one train at a time.
So before the line gets electrified, it will need to be improved massively. Upgraded signalling, construction of crossing loops, the ability to run multiple trains at once while still allowing for adequate pathing for the highly lucrative steel freight, and an upgrade to the current Sprinter's timetable. More Sprinters can be released by V/Line if
the demand is there.Secondly
, The reason Baxter is earmarked for electrification over the busier Somerville and/ or Hastings, or even the further Stony Point has nothing to do with serving passengers. Land at Baxter has been put aside for a large Craigieburn style maintenence and stabling facility. The line will need something like that soon, you could easily argue it needs it now, there is no available land further up the line, Baxter is the chosen site.
For this site to be built, the line between Baxter and Frankston will need to be duplicated and electrified. The reality is, this has nothing to do with providing the good citizens of Baxter or Langwarrin with an improved rail service over the rest of the Stony Point line. It is just an operational requirement.-----
Ideally, the government would build the new depot at Baxter, duplicate and electrify to Hastings, and mothball past Hastings until such a time as the urban sprawl has made its mark further down the line. That will not happen. Neither political party could survive the fury the public would unleash on them if they closed that line, neither can they justify spending that much money on the line over corridors with much higher growth figures, ie: Melton - Sunshine, Werribee - Tarneit, etc
Why do we have this attitude that new services are to the detriment of others? Can't more things be done at once. Imagine if the LXRA did one crossing at a time.
The only way the government was able to fund the LXRA was to sell the Port of Melbourne. Without another Port of Melbourne lying about and unless Daniel Andrews finds a spare few billion hiding under his couch, it is a reality that we must make these choices.
It is important to note, historically the Labor party have been opposed to selling off the farm to fund government spending, just ask Jeff Kennett about the kicking he received for doing just that. That said, selling off the Port has provided the government with a lot of cash, cash that they have spent wisely, there are only so many of those Golden Geese, they certainly shouldn't be in a hurry to sell them all.