Part of Yorkshire's rail network is set to become the first in the UK to run European style tram-trains, following a partnership between Northern Rail, Network Rail and the Department for Transport.
Tram-train technology will be trialled for the first time in the UK, on the 60km Penistone Line between Huddersfield, Barnsley and Sheffield.
The system will replace existing trains with tram-like cars capable of running on both tram and railway lines.
Transport secretary Ruth Kelly said: "This trial, the first in Britain, could herald the start of a new era in public transport."
"Passenger feedback is a vital ingredient in determining the success of the trial and I look forward to hearing what the people of Yorkshire think about the comfort and reliability of tram-trains", she added.
Tram-train cars are lighter and more economical than train carriages, with superior acceleration and braking.
Network Rail's Iain Coucher is pleased by Network Rail's involvement in the trial.
He said: "This trial gives us a fantastic opportunity to see whether the types of technologies used in Europe can be adapted for use on our systems."
He continued: "We expect the lighter vehicles will result in less wear on the infrastructure - extending its lifespan, improve journey times and give the option of running future commuter services closer into city centres."
The tram-train trials will begin in 2010, lasting for two years.
There is also the possibility of a second phase of testing in which the tram-trains will be used on Sheffield’s 'Supertram' network.