A national rail organisation wants the Government to force Birmingham City Council to re-think plans for redeveloping New Street Station.
Railfuture says the £600 million Gateway project must be scaled down in favour of building a new, larger station at Eastside.
The influential lobby group is urging ministers to order the council not to dispose of the Curzon Street Parcelforce site, once earmarked for a £2 billion Grand Central Station, or to identify more land if it is too late to stop the sale from going ahead.
Railfuture’s intervention follows a critical report by the Commons Transport Select Committee, which described Gateway as a cosmetic exercise and warned the makeover would not deliver additional platforms or solve the bottleneck effect where trains queue to enter New Street.
The MPs were backed by former Labour MP Lord Snape, who urged the council to give serious consideration to a new station at Eastside.
And last month, Murray Rayner, the man behind the Grand Central plan, blasted council leaders as “half wits” for pressing ahead with Gateway.
Railfuture West Midlands spokesman Alan Bevan said: “We must keep the option open. I know there is a development lined up but the Curzon Street site hasn’t been built on yet. It would be a serious mistake to allow that land to be developed.”
Mr Bevan said the council’s belief that a possible new high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham, operating out of Moor Street Station, would solve the New Street capacity issue by providing a new commuter route was a “ludicrous proposition”.
He added: “There are track limitations at Moor Street and the platforms wouldn’t be long enough for high-speed trains. You would have to build a whole new station, which begs the question why not use the Curzon Street site, which has everything going for it?
“It has good access, it is close to the middle ring road, and could accommodate 17 platforms compared to New Street’s 12.
“It is feasible and not just a pie in the sky idea.”
In a letter to The Birmingham Post, Mr Bevan says council leaders have been “mesmerised” by the thought of Gateway’s airport-style passenger lounges and new shopping malls, but have lost sight of the strategic need for an expanded central station capable of coping with more trains. He believes it would be impossible to run high-speed trains into Moor Street given the restrictive approaches to the station and prior claims for track space from Chiltern Line trains.
He adds: “It would be an abrogation of responsibility to dispose of the Grand Central site whilst the costs and problems of the New Street site multiply.
“The City, or if necessary the Government, must intervene to reserve the Grand Central site, if only to secure a central location for high-speed trains.”
Railfuture, formerly the Railway Development Society, describes itself as the UK’s leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight, with more than 3,000 members across the country.
It claims to have played a major part in getting 300 new and reopened stations to join the network since 1970.
The Parcelforce site is owned by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, but Birmingham City Council is negotiating to buy the land which has been earmarked for one of the new City Academies.
A council spokesman said: “A cabinet meeting on July 17 gave approval to look at buying the site and we are in the process of sorting out the land acquisition with AWM.”