My main point I suppose is that instead of reducing service levels that other ways to make money need to be looked at instead.
Villawood and Carramar's catchment numbers are down because of the city via regents park services being reduced to only 3 a day and nearby persons heading to fairfield instead. Clyde doesn't use that much power and is pretty much unmanned as it is. An array of solar panels on the roof of the 3 platform buildings would not only provide enough power for the lights at night at Clyde but would also generate enough electricity to power Granville's lights and other electricity needs. Granville also has enough roof space to have it's own solar panels to generate a significant amount of electricity as well. My point in regards to expansion was not in reference to existing stations but items like extending the ESR towards Randwick and Maroubra. The new metro will significantly add to rail numbers in Sydney. Adding the 2 extra tracks between Strathfield and Lidcombe would allow a re introduction of liverpool via regents park services.
There are a couple of things here
Services Carramar/Villawood to Central is faster via Main South, Liverpool to City via main south and west line is 49/54min depending on service and as you say nearly twice as frequent. Via Bankstown, its 58min. So coupled with reduced frequency of 3/hr, the average travel time spills over 1hr easily and hence you would naturally be included to walk/ride/drive to the Main South stations. Also less of a stop/start ride.
I think we agree the Bankstown Metro will and needs to be extended to Liverpool via the more direct route due west of Bankstown and operate with likely a 5-10min time saving over going via Granville. This will may see people headed south to Liverpool from their nearest station in this catchment.
For me once the Metro is extended to Liverpool, the trains from Liverpool travel via Granville and Regents parks, alternating. Birrong and Yagonna would then close as its not practical to service them using Heavy Rail anymore and the numbers don't justify it and there will be more frequent options on 1-2km away north or south on either line.
Station Power Consumption, remember that Sydney Trains is a very large user of power and hence would get a significant bulk buyer discount over what you or I pay and hence the cost effectiveness of solar power for station lighting would likely be questionable at today's prices. Additionally despite having amble roof space, it is still an industrial setting and hence installation costs are significantly higher than your average house. I also dare say if it was cost effective, they would be doing it on mass. Even Adelaide Trains hasn't resorted to this yet. But I'm sure the time will come for both.
Sydney Trains operates as you say with a 78% subsidy. If you look it up this is one of the worst in the developed world and for me not sustainable and the rest of the country's suburban services is no better. I previously thought Sydney was around 65-70%, with Brisbane the worst at 80%. Brisbane is similar in usage as Perth, but a physically much larger network and hence higher costs and built in inefficiency.
Back to Sydney, its likely that in Peak Sydney Trains (Suburban) is likely at break even or even better. So increasing peak fares significantly isn't resolving the problem of where it bleeds money. But how to bring the subsidy down? Note I said down not remove. The target should be 50%.
Like any business you cut costs and/or increase sales. The problem for Sydney trains is that its strangled by the city core. You can barely add more trains in AM peak to the place people want to go and there will more than likely be spillage onto road and other modes because of the excessive congestion on some of the trains. The Inner west and Bankstown lines are a classic. Crowded trains running running between 40% and 60% of the track capacity of a pair of tracks. The Metro will resolve Bankstown, but not the Inner west unless the timetable is changed. However this can only result in slower trips from beyond Homebush.
For the outgoings, need to look at fixed costs, and that is simply maintaining infrastructure that is underused for the cost of keeping it. These days its painting, cleaning, safety systems, help points, lighting, DAA access etc etc. Not every underused station can or should be cut, but when there is another one within a 10min walk near by, questions need to be asked. Having a 350t train stop to pick up a hand full if you are lucky people is never going to be economic.
Bad alignment that eats up train time, driver users onto other modes and drives higher costs is another pet hate. South Coast and the Wollestoncraft/Waverston bends are two of my icons of grossly outdated track alignment that does not belong in the 21st century.
Underuse of rail or competition with other modes that are also subsidised is also stupid waste of money, as you said extension of the ESR to the SE over the CSELR. . Also extension of the ESR to Bondi, BJ station is I think 6th busiest on the network, yet most of the people spill out onto a bus to complete their journey in the same direction, Greater Bondi!!! Extend the train 2 or 3 stops and most of those buses and their impact on local roads would vaporise. The existing ESR can accommodate another 10,000-12,000 users per hour in AM peak and no extra cost. You don't even need to run one more train, the seats are there now due to an unbalanced load from the south, just extend the line and add the extra trains that are required to extend existing services.
The worst part is the local council for Bondi propose to connect LR from Bondi to BJ and on to the city!!! WTF. Yet for likely the same price you can extend the ESR adding 3 new stops over 4km, Bondi, Bondi Beach and North Bondi with anywhere near the intrusiveness of digging up Old Head Road where the LR will be lucky to hit speeds of 40km/hr. Plus the ESR still has the potential to complete Woollahra at the fraction of the cost of a new station. All this alone is likely to dump an extra 5000 a day onto the ESR and the benefit drive up off peak and reserve flow peak numbers to the popular Bondi Beach. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_rail_in_Sydney#Bondi
City to West Metro appears to be certainty if the Libs retain govt beyond 2019 and this combined with Bankstown Metro will resolve the issues on this corridor. ALP may also support it as well with their own spin (ie not use automated Metro, use a DD, should they win. For me the line should start at St James, Pitt Street, Central, Syd Uni, Straithfield, Paramatta and Westmead. Simple dedicated stand alone service up and back.
Back to Clyde, once the Carlingford line is closed, its future needs to be seriously looked into and start with interviewing each one of the users.