The mile-long Nuneaton North Chord will allow freight trains to cross from Peterborough to the West Coast Mainline without holding up commuter traffic, Network Rail said.
Bosses now want to hear from people living in the Nuneaton area before applying for permission to build the link.
They claim the new stretch of track could eventually take 225,000 lorries off the roads every year.
Work is expected to start before summer 2009, with the line set to open by December 2010.
Rail Minister Tom Harris said: "We've invested £80 million to increase freight capacity on the Peterborough to Nuneaton line.
"It's now for Network Rail to ensure that money delivers for rail users and the local community."