I've never caught a train over this line as it is far from my area, but for those who do travel over this line, what are your thoughts on this?
I used to live in Goulburn, was a regular (though not frequent) user of these services, and also served on the STRUG management committee. I can tell you first hand how crappy the service is, how low the patronage is, and all of the problems on this line.
It's pretty clear the line probably needs to be sparked as far as Mossy, and if it was, the Southern Highlands would have a similar interurban service to the Short North, the Blue Mountains line and South Coast line, but would still be the least patronised of the interurban lines. My modeling suggests between 2 and 3mil trips per year
ATRC ownership is unique for a Sydney interurban line, and this complicates things. It has no doubt delayed electrification south of Campbelltown.
The population in the Highlands is slightly less than the Blue Mountains, and the local economies are more self contained/sufficient. But population growth pressure, particularly in Wollondilly shire, is accelerating - and the M5 giving good road access to South Western Sydney has accelerated this.
Politically the area is still conservative, but with the influx of new suburbanites it's becoming more working/middle/mortgage belt class, and the seats are held by more progressive Libs IIRC.
I think there will be enough political and population pressure to see electrification of the line to Picton become a reality in the next 10-15 years, especially (as seems likely) if Macarthur becomes a marginal Labor seat after the next Fed election.
The other big pressure will come from possibility of deferring the need to widen the Hume freeway south of Campbelltown.
Yes, ARTC complicates things, but I think the quid pro quo will be the life expired Menangle Bridge will be replaced. ARTC will still own the track and charge access fees as they do now, Railcorp will own and maintain the overhead.
It would essentially create a new intercity network from Macarthur/Campbelltown through to Goulburn. If such a service were to be introduced what kind of stopping pattern would it likely have and would it travel via the quadruplicated East Hills Line? As far as Sydney to Macarthur is concerned I'm guessing a stopping pattern such as:-
The stopping pattern is likely to be an extension of the existing Campbelltown services into the City Circle, probably via Sydenham and probably skip stopping some of the stations between Campbelltown and Glenfield.