Therefore I suggest the operators of the cars that once formed that service to get their collective heads and their volunteers, preferably the retired ones together...and advertise for more volunteers to enable enough cars to be assembled to form enough for two sets of trains that could potentially re-create the nightly service which would utilise full celebrity chef Dining car and bar service in the former Lounge car...the potential to grow this service is only limited by the imagination of the operator.
By utilising volunteers, now retired ex-railway people and others with a passion for providing great customer service in hospitality would enable the running costs to be reduced to track access charges, the actual operating crew, drivers and assistants, Guard and head conductor. The fares would be a premium, say from $350.00 each way to start off, however there are already enough expense account execs that would happily pay for a First class service that $350.00 upwards is a tiny price to pay for not enduring the early morning alarm clock.
Opinions and suggestions
Firstly, I look forward to you (not others) putting your fully costed proposal (including the wages of a full time volunteer coordinator) to "the operators of the cars" and see if they are willing to pick up the inevitable financial losses to their respective societies. Alternatively I will allow you to fund (out of your own pocket) the consultancy to come up with the same.
Once you've done that then maybe a serious discussion can be had - that's just a suggestion
Daftest post on RP for a long time - but that's just my opinion
Your daft post is welcome Bingley Hall and as a heads-up, I have NO experience whatsoever in operating tourist trains...nor would I have a clue regards compiling a fully costed proposal to get my suggestion on the rails...
However, I regularly see tourist trains operating all around Victoria on a regular basis:https://www.steamrail.com.au/?page=tours
Moreover, when I occasionally travel on these tours with the many other pax I see an army of volunteers of all ages and particularly retired volunteers on-board who are ambassadors for the operator. These tours MUST be profitable, or at least cover their expenses as they operate so frequently.
Assuming to a much lesser degree the former cars of the Southern Aurora are occasionally in operation for the very occasional tour north of the Murray:https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/6d2ce9_b52cb2cd86404733a3db1770bcf9ae88.pdf
It would appear these cars are readily available to commence a regular, perhaps nightly sleeping car service in the mould of the former Southern Aurora and I'm NOT talking 17 carriage trains from the get-go.
Sadly, it would appear the custodians of these cars are sitting on an asset that could return a much higher dividend if their investment were to be pressed into service on a regular basis.
I believe that at the outset and in co-operation with the relevant union, enthusiastic, preferably retired volunteers could offer their time, say one return journey a week to act in an hospitality role on-board the trains. One volunteer per car would be an extravagance and completely unnecessary, however one volunteer per TWO sleeping cars would be appropriate in a time of mobile phones and pax not needing to be 'spoon-fed' their way around their cabin.
I believe the appropriate union would be supportive at the outset of such an initiative utilising volunteers because, assuming the patronage of the train would be encouraging, the operator would inevitably after a settling-in period move toward paid staff...all of whom would inevitably join the union. As I suggested earlier, there would also be a percentage of qualified paid staff on-board as well.
In the unlikely...but possible event of a rare train disruption, the operator could offer compensation of a flight the next morning to those pax who would be impacted by the disruption.
As you are convinced my suggestion is daft, I welcome your further criticism.