Yes Mike, the ability to select seats on the V/Line site is one of the things that V/Line get right.
I do wish that NSW TrainLink offered the same service....
Actually, a couple of months ago I tried to book a trip (by phone to their call centre), and made my usual seat request.
The operator initially refused...saying that seat choice is no longer offered, even by phone!
The call was not very pleasant and quite curt. Basically, just shut up and be grateful for what you get.
I promptly filed a complaint to the online feedback form, and a few days later got a call from someone at TrainLink.
The caller said that this was indeed a new policy...and that nevertheless, she would take on board my feedback.
She did indicate that the policy was not popular with passengers!
All very odd, and all very bad form with respect to customer service (especially for regular full fare passengers).
What the heck is going on?
Normally when booking on-line I add my 'special request' for a window seat (often in Car A on XPT services), and even if the computer initially books me someplace else, a day or so later I get another email with my new preferred request. All good.
But, in the last couple of months (September to be precise), that seems to have stopped, or at least become much less reliable.
It has now put me off travelling, and I will probably make my current 6 month pass with them my last.
Just to bring this back to the Overland:
A couple of years ago I booked a V/Line seat on the Overland to go to Ararat (just for the run....I am a train fan after all!).
I chose my seat carefully. But, when I arrived at Southern Cross to board the Overland, the staff ignored the V/Line seating plan and just allocated us V/Line passengers seats as they saw fit. No room for any discussion about it. My experience with Great Southern staff (based also on IP and Ghan trips) is that on the surface they are all smiles, but they will insist that passengers shut up and do exactly what they are told.
Last year I did the full Overland trip to Adelaide, and it was fine, but the inability to select seats was not great....and you just have to hope that on the day the staff will look kindly upon you.....As it turned out I got lucky, and had a great seat for the trip, and had a pleasant day reading, dozing, gazing outside, and eating myself silly.