Network Rail and the Strategic Rail Authority are drawing up plans to demolish Edinburgh's historic Grade A-listed Waverley Station, one of the UK's finest examples of railway architecture.
The scheme, which has been met with a chorus of disapproval among Scotland's heritage lobby, would see the station replaced by a 'Birmingham New Street-style' development with a 40,000m2 shopping centre above.
The rail organisations - with the support of the Scottish Executive - believe the retail scheme could be the only way to fund 'much-needed improvements' to the station.
The AJ understands that Network Rail will present its full proposals in July when it will draw up a brief and launch a competition for an architect to design the scheme.
But conservation groups have attacked the proposals for the station, described by Pevsner as Britain's 'finest collection of railway buildings'.
Scottish Civic Trust director Terry Leventhal said 'it beggars belief ' that the Scottish Executive would even consider the demolition option.
'Network Rail has spent around £10 million improving the station in the past two years and it looks really good, ' he said.
'But now it claims that it can't make the railway improvements that it wants without getting rid of the whole building. It is quite extraordinary.
'There is not a scrap of evidence to suggest that they can only make further improvements by recreating Birmingham New Street, the worst station in western Europe, ' Leventhal added.
Sean O'Reilly of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland agreed. He said there had been no consultation with residents and 'even more concerningly there has not been an assessment of the importance of the building to the Edinburgh skyline'.
He also warned that there is every chance Network Rail could win planning permission.
'I'm told that they want to transform the station as part of some misguided belief that they are creating a new model for a modern capital city, ' he said.
Both Network Rail and the Scottish Executive refused to comment, except to confirm that 'demolition is one of the options open to us'.