The West Midlands is about to undergo the biggest shake up on the railways in years.
It could even be fairly argued today's Route Utilisation Strategy represents the start of a much greater potential reorganisation of track and trains than privatisation did a decade ago.
Ten years ago, the UK rail industry transformed into a strange public-private hybrid of train operators and quasigovernmental bodies managing largely the same network of routes and services as before - with loss-making routes propped up by massive government subsidies.
However, the Strategic Rail Authority - in one of its final flings before its role is "taken over" by the Government (as if anyone believed the SRA was truly autonomous) - is proposing to redraw the map and embark on a prioritising exercise which will see some lines, and possibly stations, disappear in favour of bolstering more popular routes.
The SRA's Jim Steer freely admits the RUS "challenges established positions".
To be romantic about it, the egalitarian ethos underpinning the history of the UK railways - the principle that you will be provided with the means to travel by train to wherever you want to go, within reason but in spite of how popular your journey is with other passengers - is under threat.
It is for that reason that the SRA's strategy has been likened to the Beeching cuts in the early 1960s.
However, passenger numbers were dwindling in those days. The opposite is true today.
In the last ten years rail travel in the West Midlands has grown by 44 per cent, compared to a national average of 34 per cent.
The RUS predicts the region's passenger numbers could increase by as much again by 2011.
Mr Steer, the SRA's managing director of strategic planning, told The Birmingham Post: "I think people recognise that you have to get the best value for money out of the railways.
"There are trains running for a dozen passengers at night on certain routes and there is serious overcrowding at certain times on others.
"Obviously you need extra trains on the latter route but we cannot conjure them up out of thin air.
"We have a duty to manage the railways on everyone's behalf and this most certainly is not a Beeching-like exercise.
"But if you are going to deny yourself the key management tool that all other businesses can use - namely managing your resources efficiently - then you are failing in your job."
In order to deliver the strategy's benefits of reduced overcrowding and better reliability - without being able to afford new capacity - there would have to be cuts on "lightly used" routes such as the local services between Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford, Stafford and Nuneaton, and Walsall and Wolverhampton.
However, this will mean the almost certain closure of some stations, including Polesworth in Warwickshire and Norton Bridge in Staffordshire.
Local MPs have already caught whiffs of these cuts and sounded warnings that they represent the thin end of the wedge for more widespread cutbacks on all but the most busy railway lines.
Perhaps even more controversial is the suggestion of spreading the rush hour by raising ticket prices from the SRA's current policy Retail Price Index (RPI + one per cent) to RPI + three per cent.
If that seems meaningless, consider what a 20 per cent increase over five years will mean to your wallet.
It is understood that an early draft of the RUS was even more keen on the idea but it was watered down to acknowledge fears that it might price passengers back on to the roads to placate West Midlands transport officials.
Mr Steer said: "To stop Birmingham suffering like the South-east does, we need to look at ways of nudging people to use later or earlier trains during the peak.
"Perhaps that means starting Cheap Day Return fares earlier in the day, or a cheaper 'Early Bird' fare, or perhaps it means having a 'peak within a peak' fare just to move some of the people who don't need to travel at that time."
The West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority and Centro have already signalled their opposition to any such fare structure.
Phil Davis, Midland Rail Passenger Council chairman, said the RUS represented a "mixed package".
"We welcome the fact this is a comprehensive region-wide study, rather than particular routes," he said.
"However, we are very concerned about the suggestion that fare increases could be used to manage demand.
"Fares are extremely high, relative to the service passengers receive, already and we would be very unhappy at anything that raised them further.
"We are also concerned about the suggestion of the removal of station stops and even entire routes."
Director general Rob Donald added: "Allocating capacity between local rail services and long distance and freight services is also a key issue.
"Centro will be keen to ensure that local passengers do not suffer unduly because of the competing needs of other rail network users."