Railway staff in Newcastle are backing Sunderland's bid to land City of Culture status.
A judging panel paid an informal bid to Wearside on Thursday to see the city's cultural credentials before leaving the region via a Virgin Trains service from Newcastle.
Newcastle station manager Louise Rutherford said: “Virgin Trains is proud to back Sunderland’s fantastic bid for City of Culture 2021.
"We’re fully behind the bid which is already helping to raise the profile of the whole North East region.”
Sunderland was the last shortlisted city visited by the judges.
The other shortlisted contenders, Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Swansea, were visited last month.
The winner will be announced in Hull, current holder of the title City of Culture, in December.