The Overland's maiden trip of 2021 leaves railway historian disappointed

The Overland train service officially returned to the tracks last Sunday, after the Victorian Government gave the iconic service a financial lifeline last July.

One of the first people to jump on board of the 133-year-old train service's first trip of the year was railway historian and author of The Overland - A Social History, John Wilson.

Mr Wilson, who was disappointed by the lack publicity for the big moment, said he expected more than the 60-80 passengers who departed from Adelaide.

"It was not well publicised - I was hoping someone from the South Australia Government was going to be there, but there was no one to send us off," Mr Wilson said.

"I was disappointed, but not surprised."

The lack of publicity has left much of the South Australian population unaware that the service is still around.

Mr Wilson wrote a letter to Premier Steven Marshall last December, which was passed on by Member for Newland Richard Harvey, which asked the premier to "talk up" the service more.

While the premier's response didn't provide the answers Mr Wilson was hoping for, he still believes there is still a place for The Overland - just ask people living in regional areas.

The 'Friends of The Overland' Facebook page has played a significant role in suggesting improvements for the service, along with encouraging people from both experience it for the first time.

"The membership is steadily increasing - this group has a message for government that needs to be heeded," Mr Wilson said.

Western Victorian towns, such as Nhill, have long showed their support for the service, and Mr Wilson believes the region will play a part in improving the popularity here in South Australia.

While it is a long-term outlook, he said the introductionofVLocity 160 trains would potentially provide a massive boost to tourism throughout both states.

"If we had a fast train, VLocity 160, it would be able to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne in seven hours - this would allow for around three trips a day," Mr Wilson said.

"The airlines have promised higher fares and lower flight frequency - it would be a great an opportunity for rail."

He admitted the cost to implement the train would be expensive, but it is something that the Commonwealth needed to consider.

One thing that wouldn't cost a lot of money would be the improvement of the Bordertown Railway Station, which Mr Wilson said is in desperate need of a face-lift.

"I suggest that the DPTI buy a few cans of paint to brighten-up the Bordertown Railway Station - it's a disgrace that it looks the way it does," Mr Wilson said.

"If that is the first thing passengers see when they enter Bordertown, then it probably won't encourage people to stop there."

While it is great to see The Overland back on the tracks, the future of the train service is uncertain beyond 2023.

One thing is for certain is that Mr Wilson will continue to advocate for the iconic train service, and with a little bit of luck, he hopes it can get the support it deserves.