Doesn't really explain the Canberra XPL, BH XPL and the Mel XPT.
Canberra's 4 hour service needs to be reduced, but the way it now works is that it is also a SH commuter service as well, as against how many stops does the competing buses make. Likely also the buses stop right in the heart of Canberra city itself.
The BH XPL competes with the Dubbo XPT on the only day it runs, a saving of 3 hours in travel is ok but if a Wollo is in place during summer then its likely to be arriving not much before the XPT's bus connections. Besides that distance & time is too far to travel in a basically air conditioned suburban Train.
Melbourne XPT's for the current standard of comfort & the time of 11 hours is again too long, as against the NCL XPT's those traveling north are going to holiday climate freindly locations year round, a bit different to Melbourne.
The thing is with the existing fleet of trains used by CL or whatever new badge is applied to them are far from satisfcatory in comfort & service levels for the 21st century, & this is again the problem, who designs these trains & who pushes for them? certainly I cannot see the user being consulted, more like as per usual treasury & minders.
I worked on steam locomotives at decent speeds on general goods as well as fast goods & limited passenger workings, & I would say that generally the worst riding engine was the 36cl at speed, followed by the 38cl except on curves where the 38c would kick around the curves owing the rear pony truck, the pig & other ten wheelers would bind into the curve & was mostly more comfortably at just under the curves specified speed, yet on each it was not hard to balance the leg/knee to fire them. But try walking through the XPT when they are doing track or specified speeds.
I personally do not have a problem as I walk through the aisles in much the same way as I did when on steam locomotives, not something that the general public especially paying ones would know how to do. I watch these passengers so many times being thrown against seat backs then steadying for the next seat step forward on their way to the cramped toilets or licensed pie shop & candy shop. I watch as mothers with babies in arms or toddlers also try the same manouvers, where are the staff? well how many are left on board for these issues?
These trains are not suitable for the tracks they run over at least for the services they provide over the distances they serve, they are not interstate or long haul trains in any stretch of the imagination. Go on modern comfortable aircraft & most no longer stand for long periods to relieve their backs as was the case prior to the current fleets of aircraft, well in most cases anyway.
Go to China, & even old loco hauled trains have decent accomadation in the newer air conditioned cars & full restaraunt services. The older 180Km/h HST types also leave the XPT & XPL's for dead comfort & ride wise, I have not been in their 300K+ trains so cannot comment on them.
The thing is though there is two things that have been done in China & firstly that is track improvements for both frieght & passenger traffic that in many cases share the same trackage, all are on concrete sleepers & high weight rail, grades & curves have been dramatically reduced also, making additional savings to timings. The 2nd thing which is something more unlikely to happen here is the increased use of Electric traction in trains over the major & not so major routes, again increasing speeds. Both of these 2 aspects has reduced the times between cities, at the same time where long distance dual highway roads have also been built & compete with rail for both long & short distance freight & passengers, they run sleeper buses in most areas for long distance travel.
I only highlight the China aspect to show what is needed on the Eastern seaboard for rail to compete with both road & air. It has to start with decent comfort level trains that are designed for our current terrain & ROW's for the primary major two capitals that use the SG network, meaning if & when the ROW is also improved these trains can cut the running times of today, & at least have trains that can run as the XPT was designed to do at 160K's where the track allowed for it, & there are more spots where that should happen these days than when they were introduced.