The UK Department for Transport has announced plans to trial the country’s first tram-train route between Sheffield and Rotherham in South Yorkshire.

The trial will operate from Sheffield city centre to the Meadowhall Interchange to join Rotherham on Network Rail infrastructure.

The feasibility study of the line is being conducted and it is hoped the service could start within three years.

The trial, to be conducted along with Northern Rail, Network Rail and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, will assess the environmental benefits, operating costs and technical suitability.

Rail Minister Chris Mole MP said that tram-train is a new concept for Britain but it has already proved a valuable addition to rail fleets on the continent.

“It provides seamless travel from rural and suburban areas direct into city centres, potentially cutting congestion and offering an alternative to short and medium-distance car commuting,” Mole said.

The pilot scheme was originally planned for the Sheffield-Huddersfield railway line in South Yorkshire with diesel-powered vehicles, for which the government had guaranteed £25m.

The scheme, however, was shelved as electric tram-trains were found to be more economically viable.

The cost of the new scheme is yet to be confirmed but is expected to cost nearly the original amount.