Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has given the go-ahead for an £18m extension of the Midland Metro tram network in Wolverhampton.
Mr McLoughlin formally approved the extension through a Transport and Works Act Order, following a public inquiry last summer.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), the transport arm of the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), said approval for the extension paves the way for the next stage in a £120m redevelopment of Wolverhampton city centre.
A computer generated image of how trams will look in Pipers Row
It said preparatory work on the extension can start later this year, with completion scheduled for 2019.
The scheme is being carried out by TfWM, in partnership with the City of Wolverhampton Council and Neptune Developments, and is part of a wider Wolverhampton Interchange project being funded by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Wolverhampton council and the WMCA.
TfWM said the extension will improve passenger connections between bus, train and tram services and also support the ongoing redevelopment of land next to the city’s railway station, which is expected to see £120m of investment and 1,400 new jobs.
The route will take trams along Pipers Row in the city, stopping directly outside the bus station before continuing on to the railway station.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton council and WMCA lead on transport, said: ‘Today’s approval is excellent news because the extension can play a key role in unlocking further investment and jobs - not just in Wolverhampton but also other parts of the Black Country.
‘If we are to succeed in revitalising our city then we must have the right transport infrastructure in place to open up new areas for redevelopment and underpin our long term ambitions.’
Cllr Lawrence said the extension would provide improved Metro links to the wider region, including a route through to the proposed HS2 station and the Broad Street area in Birmingham city centre.
The Transport and Works Act Order is due to come into force after a six-week legal challenge period.