Overcrowding which threatens the closure of Birmingham New Street Station at peak times could worsen if the latest rail shake-up is approved, business leaders have warned.
Consultation ended yesterday on changes planned by the rail authorities that could see even more trains stop at the city centre station.
The prospect has alarmed the business community, since New Street already faces the prospect of closing its doors at peak times because there is not enough space to cope safely with the volume of customers.
It has emerged that proposed alterations to the cross country rail franchise could result in fewer services stopping at Birmingham International station and the NEC, with many more passengers being forced to change trains at New Street instead.
The prospect of a double blow to the local economy - making the NEC and Birmingham International Airport less accessible, while increasing overcrowding at New Street - has been criticised by the West Midlands Business Transport Group.
Its chairman, Jerry Blackett, said at the moment most passengers were able to reach Birmingham International directly without changing.
But this would not be the case under proposals being considered by the Department for Transport for the cross country line.
Mr Blackett said: "There are some positive moves in the specifications which the DfT want successful bidders to do such as provide better services between Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.
"But we are mightily disappointed at proposals that will require more passengers to change at New Street.
"Currently two-thirds of passengers don't need to get off their trains at New Street because they can go straight through to their destination.
"This proposal alone will lead to increased overcrowding at the station and make it more difficult for passengers to plan their journeys.
"Fewer trains stopping at Birmingham International will either see more passengers lugging heavy suitcases from platform to platform or completely avoiding the airport and the NEC. And that's very bad news indeed".
The DfT plans to split some of the services run currently by Virgin covering the Southwest, south coast, Reading and up to the Northeast and Scotland. The consultation process surrounding the renewal of the licences to run trains through the region ended yesterday.
The WMBTG is also worried that Centro-PTA, the passenger transport authority, could lose its right to control local train fares under the proposed changes.
Mr Blackett warned that "walk up and go" fares paid for on the day of travel could be increased and that the franchise period for the line's new operator may be cut to eight years.
"That's too short if train operators are to be encouraged to invest as Chiltern have done with its 20-year lease," he added.
Last month Birmingham International Airport managing director Richard Heard hit out at a "marked deterioration in quality and attractiveness" at Birmingham International Station.
The WMBTG is backing a planned #500 million redevelopment of New Street Station, currently being considered by the DfT.
The project, devised by Birmingham City Council, Advantage West Midlands and Network Rail, would give the station airport-style departure areas and a huge concourse. It would also provide a new shopping centre. Business leaders are urging Network Rail to improve the frequency of services at Birmingham International station to ensure that trains on the cross country route run through the night.