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Wickham ferry stop, electric rail to Maitland in transport plan

The draft transport plan says the government will explore building a ferry wharf at Wickham. File photo

A Wickham ferry stop, light rail extension, train service to Cessnock and hydrogen-powered train trial are all "key initiatives" in the draft Hunter Regional Transport Plan published today.

The document sets out a blueprint for Transport for NSW planning over the next 20 years and includes 94 initiatives to improve transport connections within and outside the Hunter.

Among the ideas listed with a timeframe of up to 10 years is extending the Stockton ferry service "to allow customers to transfer at Newcastle Interchange".

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and nearby businesses and residents have championed a new ferry wharf at Wickham to serve the interchange and the suburb's rising population.

The draft Hunter plan says TfNSW is exploring a future extension of the tram line "west to Broadmeadow and beyond, including the need for corridor protection".

It also signals a feasibility study into better rail services to growth areas in Maitland and Cessnock, including electrifying the line to Maitland and restoring a train to Cessnock via Kurri Kurri.

The document also identifies more general aims, including improving bus and coach services.

It says TfNSW is planning "rapid" bus travel along key corridors, including to Newcastle Airport, and a bus "Head Start Program" to "encourage public transport use between new growth areas and their nearest strategic centres and transport hubs".

"The development of car dominant urban growth areas in the past has resulted in dispersed settlement patterns with high car dependency making these areas difficult to serve with public transport due to low density and dispersed trips," it says.

The plan is online from today. Public submissions will open on Tuesday.

The strategy says electric vehicles are forecast to reach price parity with traditional combustion-engine vehicles in Australia from 2024 and "there is a need to effectively plan and support the regional transition towards a low-emissions future".

It identifies rising pressure on the region's freight rail network over the next 20 years and says TfNSW will work with state agencies, councils and industry to investigate linking Newcastle port to the Inland Rail line under construction.

TfNSW will also explore improving wi-fi on "major" rail services.

The plan flags improvements to the intersection of the Pacific Highway and Medowie Road as the airport grows freight traffic.

The draft plan was prepared concurrently with the Department of Planning and Environment's Draft Hunter Regional Plan 2041 and aligns with DPE's Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan and TfNSW's Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan.

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