Opening new rail stations in Solihull, Sutton Coldfield and inner-city Birmingham could help unlock massive new regeneration opportunities, members of the region's transport authority have claimed.

Proposals to open two freight lines to passengers could help transport workers from deprived areas into regeneration zones, according to members of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority.

New stations under the plans would include Castle Vale and Castle Bromwich, which would be linked to Birmingham's emerging Eastside district. The stations - situated on the Water Orton corridor - would also be linked to a new Sutton Park line, which is being proposed by local councillors.

The Sutton Park line would involve developing stations at the park, along with Streetly and Aldridge, as part of a new service from Birmingham New Street to Walsall.

The idea was first mooted in the mid 1990s but was dropped because there was not considered to be a good business case.

However, it has been put back at the top of the agenda by transport chiefs because it would direct services away from the crowded New Street station. The new line would also serve people in new homes being built around Aldridge and Sutton Coldfield.

Centro member Coun Tim Huxtable (Con Birmingham Bournville) said: "There are some fantastic regeneration opportunities involved with opening up new stations.

"I would like to see a new station at Castle Vale which could be linked to Eastside. Castle Vale is a deprived area which is in a location where workers cannot get to the city centre very easily.

"But Eastside is one of Europe's largest regeneration schemes. Workers are needed there, and I do not see why they cannot come from Castle Vale."

Calls have also been made to build a new station in Sparkbrook as part of the proposals to reopen the Camp Hill freight line. That line would run from Moor Street to Longbridge, with stations being built at Moseley, Stirchley and Kings Heath.

However, Coun Jon Hunt (Lib Dem Birmingham Perry Barr) said that Centro should also consider opening a station on the line at Sparkbrook.

Coun Hunt said this would enable workers in the deprived neighbourhood to get to the former site of the MG Rover works, which was recently reopened as a car production plant by Nanjing Automotive Corporation.

He said: "I dot see why one of Birmingham's most deprived areas cannot be linked to Long-bridge, which will have plenty of employment opportunities in the years to come.

"It is worth considering as we are already looking at opening the line."

Opening a station at Sparkbrook might prove problematic as transport bosses do not believe there would be sufficient demand for the services in the local area.

But the PTA last week agreed to explore the opening of the Sutton Park line further.

The line, first opened in 1879 with eight services a day, is still used as a central part of the freight network. The last passenger train to use the line linking Minworth, Walmley, Sutton Park, Streetly, Aldridge and Walsall was 42 years ago.

Sutton Park station, situated close to Hartopp Gate, enabled thousands of children from across the Midlands to enjoy the massive open space.

Residents in Sutton Coldfield will tonight be meeting to discuss the plans following a presentation by Network Rail and city council officials.

Coun David Pears (Con Sutton Trinity) is calling on both organisations to carry out a full study into the proposals.

He said: "These plans were considered ten years ago but were rejected on the grounds that there would not have been the demand.

"But Sutton Coldfield has grown so much in recent years, which has brought with it a lot of congestion.

"That is why I think it is time to give these proposals some serious consideration."