Public transport bosses have offered hope that rail services between Walsall and Wolverhampton could continue - despite being axed in a Government rail strategy for the West Midlands.
Councillor Gary Clarke, chairman of the region's Passenger Transport Authority, maintained "all is not lost" after the Strategic Rail Authority's Rail Utilisation Strategy confirmed last week the decision to replace trains with buses on the poorly used line.
Coun Clarke (Con Streetly Walsall) said: "Our officers in Centro have already had a meeting with the Department for Transport to hammer out the details of funding and there are good signs that we can find a solution to maintain a passenger service. We stood up for passengers and local interests throughout the consultation on this plan and we have made some headway.
"But our opposition to cutting passenger services was made quite clear - and that opposition will continue even though the Government has now approved the plan."
PTA councillors have said the replacement bus service now being suggested by the Department for Transport, which is taking over the role of the wound-down SRA, is not an acceptable alternative.
During the consultation period earlier this year, Centro-PTA said greater effort should be invested to make the under-used Wolverhampton to Walsall service more reliable before the true level of passenger demand could be measured. "We still feel a reliable train service that is properly promoted could be successful and actually less costly than the bus or coach alternative," said Coun Keith Chambers, PTA lead member for rail services.
He said the future of the line could ultimately depend on a "use it, or lose it" appeal to local people.
"An hourly service is still included in both the current rail timetable and the new timetable to be introduced by Network Rail in December for the first part of next year - so we have some time left to show there is real demand."
The Beeching-style cut to the line between two major population centres has caused shock, with business leaders and union bosses condemning the move. Keith Stanley, Walsall director of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: "If the SRA can't manage to organise a decent rail service, what chance is there that they will be more successful with coaches?
"Which route are they going to use? It must be the best-kept secret in the Black Country. The train timetable allows 14 minutes for the trip. How far can a coach go in that time?"
RMT union general secretary Bob Crow said: "This is the thin end of the wedge we warned about when the Railways Act was debated in Parliament. The Beeching cuts also started by replacing trains with buses. When the bus replacements were run down, rural communities found themselves with no public transport links."