The feasibility study into reinstating the Kandos-Gulgong line is underway, meanwhile Mudgee's most famous railway buff said he supports for the idea - having brought a tour group to his home region for the first time on the long weekend.
Scott McGregor, who runs Railway Adventures, brought the tour by rail into Rylstone, bussed into Mudgee to a number of wineries, the museum fair and McGregor's home. Before bussing back out to Kandos to the museum, and taking the train back to Sydney via the Capertee Valley.
The disused line is being considered as a long-term option to supply coal to the Mt Piper Power Station, but if it's repaired and reopened other uses are possible. And Mr McGregor - who is looking into making Gulgong the departure point for a tour next year - said now the need to fix the missing link needs to be demonstrated.
"With Mudgee in the middle, as the service centre for these tourist events like we ran last weekend, it's a no-brainer - it's perfect," he said. "And it's not only myself, there are half-a-dozen tour operators who are lining up to do just this.
"Mudgee benefits from a lot of the other operators coming to town - I just have a personal connection because of my history, home and heart are there. So to bring a group up was very much a personal excursion, but now that we've made it a success I'm very keen to run them regularly.
"The fact that we can come as far as Rylstone [after the line from Kandos was reopened in 2018], even that little extension, is gold. We can really tell the story and give those two towns their due and still make Mudgee the star of the show.
"Maybe next October, we have a train departing from Gulgong on the Monday, as a return trip via the Bylong Valley to create that feel of a round-trip. We can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, even though we don't have the Rylstone to Gulgong connection yet, and still put on a good weekend.
"And I think that it's up to us tour operators - and the town, because it was a huge part of the success of this weekend - to keep running these things. The more we run them, the more likely there'll be a focus on how to get this line open for passenger trains to Mudgee.
"I'm sure that in time with a sprinter railcar service, it would do a very valuable job. And it may well be the success that Armidale, Bathurst and certainly places in Victoria, have had with sprinter rail cars."
He added that rail is far from an antiquated concept - it's a good idea for the future of transport.
"Interestingly the rail technology is advancing as well - new motor railcars are state-of-the-art, low emissions, have speed and efficiency, they're easy to drive and maintain," he said.
"It's there and it's available, they're looking to replace the XPT with similar things. And we need that sort of technology to support running economically viable services in the bush.
"This has all been on the agenda for some time, and certainly it's an emotive issue, people love train travel - that's the bottom line. A rail renaissance is happening all over the world, we thought rail was going out 20-30 years ago, but now the swing is definitely back in a big way."