But would 2 or 3 light trains a day justify the money to appreciably extend that network? For example, the Sydney to Melbourne trip for the XPT is 960Km, with a few Km within Melb electrified and 40Km to Macarthur, less than 5% of the total journey. Sydney-Bris is 160Km out of 735Km or just over 20%, while Syd-Dubbo is the best at 155 out of 465Km, or 33% of the journey. The costs of improving those percentages would far exceed the return. I doubt you could electrify Lithgow to Bathurst, or Macarthur to Moss Vale for $90mil.Its 163K's to BMD from Central so that's 326K's in both directions, and there is 3 return NCL Services atm, plus the 2 NW services daily, add the extension of wires to Telerah at some point and there is another 30K's each direction for those trains.
I'm not saying there aren't savings to be had with the EXISTING electrified network, which is already there and built, but that it represents such a small proportion of the current XPT route-miles. Saying 326Km out of 1470Km is the same as 163Km out of 735Km, still only about 20% of the journey. And there would be no cost benefit achieved by extending the network.
OK, so there are 10 trips a day (incl return legs) under the proposed Telarah electrification.
10 trips of 30Km= 300Km per day.
What would be the cost difference between 300Km on diesel fuel compared to 300Km of 1500V DC on the light grades of the Lower Hunter on a non-stopping service? We've seen elsewhere on the forum that fuel consumption will be something like 1 litre per km, or $1.50/Km. Would the difference be more than $1/Km? If electric traction is a huge 3 times more efficient, it might be. So, let's be generous and assume a saving in energy costs of $300 a day, or $10,000 per annum. Even if we were to make a completely ridiculous assumption and say electric traction is utterly free and costs nothing to maintain, the cost saving over diesel would still only be $450/day or $15,000pa. That's what they'd save by electrifying to Telarah. Of course, you could also replace the Hunter Rail Cars with Electrics (80 return trips p/day), so the savings increase proportionally ($80,000-$120,000pa), but so do maintenance costs.
And how much would it cost to electrify this 60Km of track (Up and Down tracks, lets not forget the return journey). Several Million, so much that the savings found wouldn't come anywhere close to justifying it.
The only justification for new electrification that has ever made economic sense is where heavy freight is involved. Operationally, it makes no sense for any Hunter Coal to be diesel hauled from the mines to Maitland, then stop to have an engine change for electric haulage to Port Waratah, particularly when the falling grades for loaded trains to port mean that through diesel haulage is quite efficient. That and the fact that no freight operators have electric locos, because even Lithgow-Pt Kembla coal working is close to equal between diesel haulage or electric nowadays.