Land bought for £500,000 to build two train stations will have to be handed back if Government plans to scrap a route between two of the biggest population centres in the West Midlands go ahead.
The Strategic Rail Authority wants to axe trains on the poorly used Walsall to Wolverhampton line in order to ease overcrowding on busier Birmingham-bound services.
However, passenger transport executive Centro owns land in Aldridge and Willenhall - since 2000 and 2001 respectively - on which it intended to build stations in an effort to improve patronage on the line.
If the SRA goes ahead and axes the route, the previous landowners will buy back the land for the same price.
Politicians and transport experts have hit out at the proposed cuts which, they will lead to more widespread service reductions in the future. Former chairman of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority Richard Worrall last night blamed operator Central Trains' poor service for the low passenger numbers.
The line regularly attracts between 2,000 and 4,000 passengers a month, less than one per cent of the passengers that use the Cross City Line through Birmingham.
Mr Worrall, who often uses the service, said: "The key factors in low usage have been its appalling reliability, the poor once-an-hour frequency when it is running and the lack of intermediate and additional stations.
"And Centro, in its defence, rightly does not like to promote a service until it's worth promoting: the last thing they want is to encourage people to turn up for trains that do not appear, or which, on a good day, manifest as a substitute bus which will fight its way through the congestion with all the rest of the traffic."
In 1997, Mr Worrall was instrumental in having the service added to Central Train's franchise commitments during rail privatisation discussions. It began operation in 1998.
"From day one", he said, "this has never been a service to rely upon, and that is the operator's fault, not the passengers' or Centro's."
He added: "I call upon Centro with its partners from local government, business and all other sectors, to now prepare that case as a matter of the utmost urgency.
"If they don't, we may well lose the service and open the way for further cuts elsewhere in the future. Don't let it happen."
However, a Central Trains spokesman said Mr Worrall was "wrong" about the route.
"Over the last three years passenger numbers have actually grown from 44,00 in 2002, 45,000 in 2003 and 52,000 in 2004.
"In 2001 we extended the Walsall Wolverhampton service to serve local stations to Telford and Wellington offering passengers new journey opportunities for work and leisure."
A union dispute saw buses replacing trains on the route from January, although they are to be restored on June 12.
Current PTA chairman Coun Gary Clarke (Con Streetly) said he had "not given up hope" of persuading the SRA to reprieve the route.