None of the #500 million required to redevelop Birmingham New Street Station has been secured, despite officials staging a high-profile unveiling yesterday of the new station design.
Instead, the project has entered a "critical phase" in which crucial Government funding for the region's top transport priority could be dependent on the West Midlands committing itself to the introduction of road pricing.
It is understood Transport Secretary Alistair Darling indicated the link during a private meeting with West Midland politicians and business leaders in Birmingham last month.
Yesterday's press conference saw the "Birmingham Gateway" project partners - Birmingham City Council, Network Rail, Advantage West Midlands and Centro - admit the plans were a "prospectus" with which to lobby for the required #350 million public funds and #150 million from the private sector.
Nick Paul, chairman of regional development agency AWM, said: "The next stage of this is to secure the funds. This really is the critical phase."
Two years ago, AWM pledged up to #100 million for the project.
However, Mr Paul said: "We haven't formally agreed that, nor has anyone else yet."
He added he expected it to take 12 to 18 months to find the money required to rebuild the station.
Jerry Blackett, chairman of the West Midlands Business Transport Group and policy director of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said the Government's new Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) would be the key source of funding for New Street.
"There is nothing written down to this effect but I think the impression is there in the tea leaves that the Government will release TIF funds for projects like New Street to the conurbations that are prepared to go first with some form of demand management on the roads.
"What we must not do is embrace demand management - one of the options there being road pricing - if it doesn't make the region more competitive."
Last night, a spokesman for the DfT said: "Everyone agrees that New Street Station needs to be modernised to deliver a station fit for the thriving city that Birmingham has become. We will play our part in that."