A £58 million scheme that will see tram trains run on rail and tram networks in South Yorkshire will begin in 2015.
Transport Minister Norman Baker gave the go-ahead for the pilot today, which will see services running between Rotherham, Meadowhall and Sheffield. The tram trains will run on Sheffield's local tram routes and Network Rail lines to provide a continuous service between each location.
Electrification of a stretch of track between Sheffield and Rotherham and the construction of 400 metre line linking the tramway to the train tracks are part of the major works taking place to make the project a reality.
Baker said the pilot was designed to test the concept for possible wider roll-out across the UK. In a written statement to Parliament, he said: "The pilot I am announcing today will allow us to determine the practical and operational issues of extending tram-trains from the national network to on-street running, and (also) running trams and heavy rail vehicles safely over existing heavy rail infrastructure.
"It will also allow us to gauge passenger perception and acceptability of tram-trains.
"The pilot will see the introduction from 2015 of new tram-train vehicles capable of using both light and heavy rail infrastructure, so providing continuous travel from Sheffield's Supertram network on to Network Rail's national rail network, as well as providing more capacity on the Supertram system itself."
Baker said the pilot would run for two years and the £58 million budget would cover the cost of new vehicles and infrastructure changes.