Rail lines closed during the notorious Beeching cuts of the 1960s could be restored as the Government seeks ways of improving and extending the rail network.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said he is looking at ways to boost the economy through house-building and to ease overcrowding on trains.
Restoring lost capacity is one of a several ideas put forward for consultation in the Government's new rail strategy.
Others include plans for smaller rail frachises, this would see the troubled Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise split when the current contract with Govia Thameslink Railway comes to an end in 2021.
The Great Western rail franchise could also be split.
Plans are also being accelerated to reopen the east west line from Oxford to Cambridge, which the government hopes will involve private sector funding to support the building of thousands of new homes.
Mr Grayling denied that the plans amounted to the splitting up and privatising of Network Rail.
The Beeching cuts, prompted by two reports by the then British Rail chairman, led to more than 4,000 miles of track being taken out of the network.
Road transport was then seen as a more efficient transport option.