Trains running from Birmingham might no longer stop at smaller stations, as part of an attempt to reduce overcrowding.

The Department for Transport suggested cutting the number of stops on Cross Country passenger services.

It said the aim would be to reduce overcrowding experienced by people on long-distance journeys - by deliberately cutting the number of passengers using the train for shorter journeys.

Trains would stop at large conurbations but miss out smaller stations nearby, either permanently or at peak times.

The proposal is one of a number of ideas in a public consultation about the future of the Cross Country Passenger Rail Franchise, which includes long-distance services stretching from Aberdeen to Cambridge in the south east and Penzance in the south west. Every train goes through Birmingham’s New Street station.

Destinations on the Cross Country franchise include Coventry, Wolverhampton and Leicester. Trains also stop at smaller stations such as Stafford, Tamworth, Water Orton, Nuneaton, Coleshill Parkway and Burton-on-Trent.

A Cross Country service

The Department for Transport document, published by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, suggests cutting overcrowding by “reducing the number of short distance passengers, where there are suitable alternatives”.

It asks passengers whether they would support “removing calls from towns closest to the conurbation centre either completely or just at peak times.”

However it warns: “Although this might speed-up journeys, the problem is that many of the towns also have passengers wanting to use the Cross Country network for longer distance journeys who would then be inconvenienced.”

Another option is to call at smaller stations but to avoid including the stops in timetables, so that passengers don't get on.

The document suggests: “Continuing to call at such stations, but allowing the operator to restrict calls to ‘set down’ or ‘pick up’ only.

"In that way, a train heading away from a major city in the afternoon would not be advertised as calling at the next town but would do so only to set down passengers.”

A third suggested option involves “removing the validity of local multi-modal tickets on Cross Country trains (either generally or just at peak times in the peak direction).”

It would mean tickets which allow people to travel by any available route would not be valid on Cross Country trains.

The document also contains suggestions that are likely to be popular with commuters, including introducing longer trains.

A consultation is taking place because the Cross Country franchise, currently held by Arriva, is coming up for renewal in 2019.

Feedback from passengers will help the Government draw up the criteria firms bidding for the franchise are expected to meet.

In a written introduction to the document, Mr Grayling said: “While passenger numbers have increased, the size of the train fleet has stayed largely the same so some of the busiest routes in the network suffer from crowding.

"Resolving crowding is my primary objective for the next franchise, and I want to see a growing and successful franchise that delivers this."

The service, which also runs to Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, carries 40 million passengers a year.

The consultation document, and details of how to respond, are at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cross-country-rail-franchise .