Time to upgrade the ‘joyless dungeon’ known as Sunderland railway station

Sunderland Railway Station.
Sunderland Railway Station.

As welcomes to cities go, Sunderland’s railway station is about as underwhelming as you get.

Its bland appearance has been likened to the faceless Eastern Bloc architecture of the Sixties and was once memorably described as a ‘joyless dungeon’ for those viewing at platform level.

While efforts have been made to lift its gloomy image - most notably the dancing shadows installation - it is clearly long overdue an overhaul.

What is perhaps most galling for the Sunderland public is that we’ve been here before. Five years ago plans for a £13million scheme to transform the station were unveiled.

Only two years ago, we were trumpeting the news that the revamp plans were in their final stages.

Instead of a fantastic new arrival, the public are, like a disgruntled rail passenger, left stranded at the station, staring down the track at the train that never comes.

Julie Elliott has had enough. The Sunderland MP has called for urgent action to revamp the station and pretty much sums up the feelings of most with her description of the issue.

She said: “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.

“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.”

We await Network Rail’s response with interest. We trust it’s a more attractive proposition than the station we currently have to endure.