Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin has signed-off Network Rail's plans for an £85m elevated chord railway providing a direct link between Manchester's Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria stations.
The Ordsall Chord will be a 340m track extension linking the Bolton Lines railway near Castlefield to the Chat Moss Lines near Salford Central station.
The order from the transport secretary issued yesterday afternoon authorised Network Rail to begin construction of the line, and also signed-off the compulsory purchase of land and rights around the scheme.
In the order, McLoughlin said: "The Secretary of State notes that the current layout of routes across Manchester, with poor connections across the city, has very significant adverse consequences by acting as a bottleneck to movement and a severe constraint on capacity, particularly at Piccadilly, which results in delays and congestion."
Acknowledging English Heritage's criticisms of the scheme, the order recognised that the Ordsall Chord would cause "substantial harm to heritage assets" but said that the benefits to the wider community outweighed the impact.
The original timescale for completion of the project was 2017, although this is expected to be revised due to delays in the approval of the planning application.
Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: "The investment going into the railway in the north will bring huge benefits.
"The Northern Hub project will see more trains, faster and better journeys for millions of people and the Ordsall Chord is a vital part of the overall scheme.
"Network Rail welcomes the decision by the Secretary of State. We will now look at the timescales needed to deliver the project and work with our stakeholders and the community so passengers and the economy can benefit from the investment as quickly as possible."
The scheme was designed by Network Rail in partnership with Skanska and BAM.