Construction work for the delayed £60m Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train project may soon be under way.
The overall scheme - originally announced in 2009 - has been delayed several times but is now due to be up and running by early 2017.
An application for permission to connect up the local rail and Supertram networks has now been submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport.
The £1.8m work will see 150m of new track built in the Tinsley area, along with overlead line equipment being installed to power the tram-trains.
If given the go-ahead, this section of work is expected to be completed by the end of next year - with services due to start running on the line shortly afterwards.
Andrew Penny, area director for Network Rail, said: “This is an exciting stage of the project as we apply for permission to link the tram and rail network and turn years of meticulous planning into Britain’s first operational Tram Train service.”
The project will provide a direct service between Sheffield city centre, Rotherham Central train station and Parkgate retail park.
The Stagecoach-operated scheme is intended to allow specialist vehicles to use the existing Supertram route between Cathedral and Meadowhall South and then move onto the rail network via the new track to Parkgate.
The partners in the Tram Train project are Network Rail, Department for Transport, Northern Rail, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Stagecoach Supertram.
It is intended three Tram Train services will run each hour.
The pilot will run for an initial two years and the scheme become permanent after that. It is expected to create 35 new jobs.
Members of the public have until April 28 to comment on the application for the preliminary stage of work.