Loss-making rural rail lines in the Midlands must remain open, MPs warned yesterday.
An inquiry by the Commons Transport Committee said it would be "unreasonable" to close the threatened routes.
The MPs, including Paul Marsden (Lib Dem Shrewsbury) and George Stevenson (Lab Stoke South), launched an investigation after Transport Secretary Alistair Darling warned routes in Staffordshire and Warwickshire could shut down.
Mr Darling called on councils, train operators and local residents work together to keep them open.
But the MPs warned: " Closure of rural lines would be short-sighted."
It followed a detailed inquiry in which the MPs quizzed Transport Ministers and rail managers, and travelled to Shrewsbury in Staffordshire to hear the views of residents at a public meeting.
Last year 56 rural lines were designated "community railways", including Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town in West Midlands, Stoke on Trent to North Staffordshire in Staffordshire, and Coventry to Nuneaton in Warwickshire.
The designation allows rail operators to reduce costs by ignoring some regulations. But it also means the lines could close unless their losses are reduced.
The MPs said: "Closing local railway lines will inconvenience the travelling public, reduce patronage on mainlines and increase pollution as travellers turn to the car.
"It can only be justified if it is clear that it will make significant savings."
They also warned that passengers were shunning trains because the service was poor.
"A recurring theme in the comments at the public meeting in Shrewsbury was poor standards on the local railway.
"People complained about poor connections, dirty trains, filthy lavatories, the absence of travel information on stations and a lack of integration with other public transport."
Government regulation prevented travel firms from selling integrated bus and rail tickets, allowing passengers to buy just one ticket for a journey which involved both buses and trains, the MPs said.
"There are clearly significant barriers to increasing the use of rural railways. Despite this, we were left in no doubt that rural communities value their railway."
They backed the community rail scheme as a way of improving rural services but warned: "They cannot be expected to save rural railways without financial backing."
MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, the committee's chairman, said: "Existing community rail partnerships have shown that they can achieve passenger growth through promotion and local involvement."
The Treasury provided the railways with a £2.6 billion subsidy in 2002/03 - an average of £2.60 for each of the one billion rail journeys made.
However, the rural lines under threat are currently claiming up to three times as the average subsidy.