Enabling works are underway on the first part of a transformational programme to reinvent Sunderland’s train station.

Work is advancing on the first phase of a game-changing project that will create an attractive new entrance point to Sunderland, marking the start of a scheme to completely revamp the transport hub.

Contractor BAM Nuttall is making final preparations to deliver the £26m project that will see the southern entrance of Sunderland Central Station transformed into a light, bright and airy point of arrival for visitors travelling by train and Metro.

The enabling works will take place ahead of the planned closure and demolition of the South Entrance concourse, expected to take place at the end of April.

Travellers will be diverted to the north entrance, which is also planned to be revamped following the completion of the first programme of work.

Sunderland City Council has led the charge for the new station, bringing together partners including Network Rail, Nexus, Grand Central and Northern Rail, to tackle the first of a multi-phased revamp of the transport hub.

The council is drumming up support for a full station makeover over the next six years, with a vision to revamp the northern entrance of the station, as well as platform-level works to increase the capacity of the station, with four tracks and four platforms to separate Nexus and Metro from mainline services.

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is a major step forward and we’re all looking forward to seeing the new station take shape.

“It’s the start of a much wider plan to ensure that we have a station that residents can be proud of.”

Rob Storrie, Project Director for BAM Nuttall, said: “We’re pleased to be underway with enabling works that will pave the way for the station’s revamp.

“It’s a hugely significant project that we’re really proud to be part of.”

The existing southern entrance will clear the way for the construction of a new statement building, which will overlook Market Square.

The new entrance features a large glass wrap around design, and will include a new ticket office and reception, public toilets, retail space and cafes, comfortable waiting areas, as well as a new mezzanine level that will have office space reserved for rail industry staff.

The improvements have been part-funded by the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF).

The overall TCF package for Sunderland Station improvements and associated works is £16.3m.

Having unlocked the funding needed to push ahead with the southern concourse, plans are taking shape for the second stage of the station’s transformation to deliver a reimagined northern entrance, with attractive public realm to create a statement building and gateway entrance to the Central Business District on High Street West.

The northern entrance will become the city’s main arrival point, with Mackies Corner and the Elephant Tearooms just two of the impressive buildings greeting people coming into Sunderland.

Major works to the platform-level of the station are included in the future third stage plans, with the ambition to increase connectivity and grow public transport by creating a four track, four platform station that separates Nexus and Metro, on one platform, from mainline services allowing both to expand as public transport connections regionally and nationally, and enabling them to provide access to jobs, to secure investment and to grow the economy.

Network Rail will be overseeing the southern entrance works. Kieran Dunkin, principal programme sponsor from Network Rail, said: “This is a major project and one we’re delighted to be part of.

“With enabling works underway, we look forward to seeing progress from spring – the start of a transformational programme for Sunderland.”

Chief Operating Officer at Nexus, Martin Kearney, said: “I’m delighted to see enabling works underway on this exciting £26m project that will transform Sunderland station, a key gateway to the city.”

Tobyn Hughes, managing director, Transport North East, said: “This development is a key part of our Transforming Cities Fund programme and will provide new and improved facilities for people in Wearside.

“I’m pleased to see works are now underway – it’s great news for the North East network.”

Completion of the southern entrance works is scheduled for 2024. In 2019/2020 c1.5 million Metro trips were made from and to the station, with a further c427,000 trips made using the national rail network.

Numbers are expected to grow as the city centre becomes an economic hub and the city will require supporting infrastructure to encourage sustainable travel.

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