Sunderland’s southern rail station entrance will be closed from next week as major work gets underway to transform the city’s main transport hub.

Passengers travelling from the main entrance of the station are being asked to use the northern entrance on Union Street to access Sunderland’s central train station, as demolition of the southern access to the station begins.

The Market Square and Waterloo Street entrance will close from May 2, as work begins on a game-changing project that will create an attractive new entrance point to Sunderland, marking the start of a scheme to completely revamp the whole station.

Contractor BAM Nuttall will start work on the £26m project from May, creating a light, bright and airy point of arrival for visitors travelling to the city by train and Metro.

The works does not impact access to the Bridges and other retailers at Market Square, all of which remain open as normal.

Sunderland City Council has led the charge for the new station, bringing together partners including Network Rail, Nexus, Grand Central and Northern, 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, allowing both to expand as public transport connections regionally and nationally.

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is the start of a transformational programme of work, that will give the city the station it deserves.

“While there will be disruption during construction, we know that – ultimately – the outcome will be well worth it, and we’re pleased it’s advancing.”

Demolition of the existing southern entrance will clear the way for the construction of a new statement building.

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.

Network Rail will be overseeing the southern entrance works and completion is scheduled for 2024.

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