When you consider that most of the 7.5 million people in NSW live in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongon, Blue Mountains/Bathurst and New England then the population then yes NSW is can be compared to a smaller state like Thuringia where I lived.
Reality is you have answered yourself in relation to the propossal.
Having worked as a driver at Werris Creek for several years prior to being medically retired, & going through the time when passengers were pushed away, as well as freight from all the lines, also going back to when Armidale was served by 2 pax trains a day with 3 on W&F along with 1 down & 2 up on Sundays, there were times even when the numbers of travelling by rail was high, they were only full at holiday times, when Uni finished & on W/E's for the uni students.
Stations such as Uralla, Kentucky, Walcha Road, Woolbrook, Limbri, Kootingale, Nemingha, would at best provide 4 at Uralla, maybe the same on occasions at Walcha Road, & I don't remember seeing anymore than one on occassions at the others, the thing also was that each of those stations were in the main attended only Tamworth provided passenger numbers especially when connecting services from Barraba ran, but even that line might only provide 12 or so at best.
Heading south, WCK, would provide maybe 6 on one of the mails, remember there was one from Moree, so whichever one was the earliest got the numbers, same at Quirindi, maybe 6 again, Willow Tree one, MDI could go to 10 at times, Scone similar to MDI, Aberdeen same, MBK 12 or more & the same with Singleton, Maitland maybe 20 & BMD same. But again numbers were dependant on the early service & pre booked seat times.
The daylight service on 23 & 22, was usually around 85 - 90% full on most days & an additional train usually ran to Tamworth, then cut back to Werris Creek in later years which was strange, but then again I have seen it with around 20 passengers on it with an 8 car set.
Today, things are much different, the night trains do not run, & only the single daylight each way 7 days a week, it runs at fairly convenient times, but I would like to see the down service run a bit earlier at around 0900 ex Sydney. Again this train runs & is often around 70% full but can also be much higher. Stations served are no where near the old days, but then again even if a stop was tabled as a B stop I would be sureprised how much patronage would served.
For people to travel to Tamworth from some of the Northern stations, it would be far quicker by car, but why would they go to Tamworth? Uralla people head to Armidale for needs that are no worse than at Tamworth, only advantage is that the city centre is closer to the station than Armidale.
Realistically, I would see the general extra need for services would be for the reintroduction of a night service in both directions, departing Armidale at a time that would allow arrival in Sydney between 0600 & 0700, same for a down service as well.
Today, most of those stations