Sunderland’s multi-million-pound southern train station entrance has officially opened its doors today [Friday December 8].
The transformation of the city’s new arrival point – featuring a heavily glazed fascia that looks out to Market Square in the heart of the city – welcomed the public from 8am this morning, with the finishing touches being applied to the public realm surrounding the station over the next few months.
The leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller and chief executive Patrick Melia met with Julie Elliott MP; representatives from Network Rail, Grand Central and Northern Rail, as well as contractor BAM, to see the finished station after 18 months of construction.
The southern entrance of the station features a large glass wrap around design and includes a new ticket office and reception, public toilets, retail space and cafes, comfortable waiting areas, as well as a new mezzanine level that has office space reserved for rail industry staff. The project was driven by Sunderland City Council, in partnership with Network Rail, Nexus, Grand Central and Northern Rail.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Well, it is stunning. What a contrast this is to entrance that stood here before. This is a significant demonstration of the ambition we have, to transform this city into a place we can all be proud of. I am delighted to see this complete.”
The southern entrance is part of a wider investment programme to transform the transport hub. The council is campaigning for support for the next phases to create a massively transformed city station over the coming years, with a vision to revamp the northern entrance, as well as platform-level works to increase capacity, with four tracks and four platforms to separate Nexus and Metro from mainline services. It is hoped the hub will create business and further investment opportunities to support the central business district and retail rejuvenation in the heart of the city.
Julie Elliott MP for Sunderland Central, said: “This is a symbolic moment for Sunderland people. We can now be proud of our point of arrival, and can look ahead with optimism as a huge programme of change rolls out across Sunderland, driving regeneration on a scale not seen for decades.”
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.
Interim Managing Director of Nexus, Cathy Massarella, said: “The new southern entrance at Sunderland station looks fantastic and it’s transformative for what is a major gateway into the centre of the city and the wider region. It’s a significant part of what is a city-wide regeneration programme.
“This multi-million-pound project will provide Sunderland with a world class railway station, offering customers modern, new, brighter, cleaner, and more welcoming facilities. We are looking forward to seeing our amazing new Metro trains stopping at the new-look station in 2024.”
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.
Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Sunderland Station is a key project within the region’s Transforming Cities Fund programme and I’m delighted to see it open for passengers today.
“The scheme is a transformative gateway to the city and will provide a modern, comfortable and appealing facility for local people and businesses to connect with our rail network. My congratulations go to Sunderland City Council on this ambitious project – this is very exciting news.”
Kerry Peters, regional director at Northern said: “We are incredibly excited that the work at Sunderland station is now complete. It will make a huge difference to our customers. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their hard work on this project.”
Jonathan Calvert, principal portfolio manager for Network Rail, said: “This is a fantastic scheme which will transform rail travel for people in Sunderland and we’re really pleased that we have been able to work with industry partners on its delivery.
“Now that the work is complete, we look forward to passengers reaping the benefits and enjoying an improved travel experience.”
Construction started in May 2022 with contractor BAM delivering the project on time.
Nissar Mohammed, Rail Director at BAM, said: “We’re so pleased to see the new entrance to Sunderland Station open to the public. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work from our construction team, Sunderland City Council, Network Rail, and our subcontractor partners. The new entrance looks fantastic and will provide an enhanced travel experience for passengers, as well as a bright and modern welcome to Sunderland.
“The project is a testament to our commitment to delivering projects that positively impact communities. Using local suppliers has meant that businesses in the North East have benefitted from the station’s redevelopment, as well as passengers and the public. We extend our gratitude to the Sunderland community and local businesses for their collaboration and support throughout the scheme.”
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