MP demands urgent action on Sunderland’s ‘tired old’ railway station

Sunderland Railway Station.
Sunderland Railway Station.

A Sunderland MP is campaigning for urgent action to regenerate the city’s railway station.

Julie Elliott said investment is needed now to transform “Sunderland’s tired old railway station”.

Julie Elliott MP

Julie Elliott MP

Plans for a multi-million pound station have been in the pipeline for several years, but Mrs Elliott is calling on Network Rail to do more to make it a reality.

The Sunderland Central MP has written to the organisation’s chief executive, Mark Carne, calling for a meeting.

She said: “So many exciting things are happening in Sunderland right now and we need and deserve a station that is fit for purpose.

“£1.3billion is to be invested in the local economy in the coming years, in ten months time we welcome the world famous Tall Ships Races and Sunderland has also been shortlisted in the prestigious UK City of Culture 2021 competition.

We need and deserve a station that is fit for purpose

MP Julie Elliott

“By contrast, our railway station looks tired, offers a poor welcome to the city and doesn’t even have a public toilet.

“It needs redeveloping urgently if we are to maximise both investment and the benefits of investment in Sunderland.”

Plans for a £13.55million scheme to transform Sunderland’s run-down city centre railway station were unveiled in 2012.

The proposals involved the demolition of the current building, which is more than 50 years old, and replacing it with a lightweight roof over a new concourse and public area, with space for either the existing or new shops.

Sunderland City Council has been working with Network Rail, which owns the station, and public transport executive Nexus, operators of the Metro, to bring the plans to life.

But, Mrs Elliott believes the plans are being delayed because Network Rail are not committing enough funding to the project.

In her letter to Mr Carne, the MP said: “It is my understanding that a £13.55million station design has been agreed by Nexus, Sunderland City Council and Network Rail for some time.

“As you will know, the council and Nexus have already committed £7.25million, leaving a funding gap of £6.1million. A joint working group has also been established to progress the scheme.

“Whilst acknowledging that Network Rail have already committed to the joint working group, it simply isn’t enough.

“Network Rail must make a greater financial commitment to the redevelopment of the station.

“In reality, not even match funding is being sought by the council and Nexus as over 50% of the required funds have already been secured.

“I would be grateful if we could arrange an urgent meeting to discuss a way forward on this matter.”

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said they would not be making a comment until they had responded to Mrs Elliott’s letter.