Andrew Fenwick believes bringing back the passenger train service between Maitland and Bellbird will have benefits for residents, accessibility and tourism.
This is why he has launched an ePetition to NSW Parliament, with hopes of giving the project a nudge along.
Introducing a train service to Cessnock is part of the Transport for NSW Draft Hunter Regional Transport Plan, released in 2022.
The plan says introducing Cessnock to Newcastle rail services via Kurri Kurri is an initiative 'for investigation', with a time frame of zero to 10 years.
Another item for investigation within zero to 10 years is "undertake a feasibility study looking at opportunities to better align the growth areas in the Maitland (and Cessnock) LGAs with a focus on the rail corridor, potential electrification of the line and including better overall public transport integration and service frequency and timetable structure needs".
Mr Fenwick, who ran in the NSW election as the Legalise Cannabis Party's candidate for Cessnock, said he wants to speed up the process of introducing the service.
"The longer it gets left, the harder it's going to be and the more expensive it's going to be, and the need isn't getting filled, and there's definitely a need," he said.
With Cessnock's population booming, Mr Fenwick believes this extra mode of public transport will be useful for the community.
"It's a bit of public transport the area really needs and there's an option there to make it happen," he said.
Passenger trains haven't run on the line since 1972.
Member for Cessnock Clayton Barr said the proposal to restore train services to Cessnock and Kurri Kurri has been flagged and is often referred to as a long term plan, meaning there isn't any immediate funding available, but there might be in the future.
"Personally, I can easily foresee a time in the medium to long term future when the Hunter passenger train network will need to be expanded to connect various communities that are currently not connected," he said.
"As our populations grow, and especially as we grow into more dense and congested city centres, large numbers of people will need transport options other than cars.
"Currently the communities of Cessnock and Kurri Kurri are linked to Maitland by reasonably frequent bus services."
Mr Fenwick said reintroducing passenger trains could be great for tourism, too, with visitors able to access Cessnock and the Hunter Valley more easily.
On the other side, it will better link Cessnock residents with the rest of the state.
"At the moment there's no tangible link for people [who don't drive] to travel outside the area," Mr Fenwick said.
"If you want to get anywhere, you've got to drive somewhere to get on a train.
"And then there's the internal transport, the great thing about that railway line is it actually follows the road, and it goes through the towns which means people could catch it from Weston to Cessnock to go shopping or to go to the doctor."
Regional Transport and Roads minister Jenny Aitchison said Transport for NSW is currently developing the Hunter Strategic Regional Integrated Transport Plan (SRITP), which will evaluate the community's transport needs over the next 20 years.
"This will include economic opportunities and public transport options to support housing and jobs growth in the region and will consider maximising the use of the existing transport network and explore the feasibility of opportunities to better align the growth areas in the Maitland and Cessnock LGAs with a focus on the rail corridor," Ms Aitchison said.
"I welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation with the community to ensure it delivers a plan that meets the needs of the Hunter now and into the future."
View the petition here.
In other news:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.