The #500 million renovation of New Street Station could be finished a year ahead of schedule.
Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby revealed moves to have the long-awaited scheme completed by the end of 2011, in time for the London Olympic Games the following year.
Birmingham is hopeful of providing a training base for the Chinese Olympic squad and Coun Whitby said a modernised New Street with better rail links would act as a huge incentive.
He was speaking after council planners considered the New Street proposal for the first time.
Outline planning permission is expected to be granted by the end of the year, but the project cannot go ahead until Government funding bodies grant approval.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said he was confident of a positive decision by the Department for Transport.
He added: "I expect work to start before the end of next year and it would be great if we could get the whole thing completed a year early. There is certainly plenty of support to make that happen."
He also took the opportunity to hit back at critics, who doubted whether Coun Whitby would ever be able to get the New Street scheme off the ground.
A year ago, Sir Digby Jones, then the director general of the CBI, accused the council of failing to get to grips with the project. Other figures in the Birmingham business community also criticised the lack of progress.
Yesterday, Coun Whitby hit back. He said he had inherited a "non-scheme" when he became council leader in June 2004.
"People had been talking for years about improving New Street, but nothing was happening. There was a massively overloaded committee and very little money. All we had was #10 million from the Local Transport Plan and the scheme under consideration didn't even meet the Government's cost benefit ratio.
"In the past 24 months we have managed to get five project partners on board, including Network Rail and Centro, and identify the funding required. We are driving this forward and it will be the proudest day of my council leadership when the bulldozers move on to site to start the redevelopment of New Street Station."
His remarks appeared to be a rebuff for former Labour city council leader Sir Albert Bore, who chaired the New Street Project Committee until June 2004. Coun Whitby said the new New Street, with an airport-style concourse allowing daylight to flood on to the platforms, would put Birmingham on the map nationally and internationally.
The completed station will be able to cope with 150 per cent more passengers than is the case at the moment.
"It will be a fantastic passenger experience, but it will also provide an international gateway into Birmingham and the city region," Coun Whitby added.