Concerns £28million revamp of Sunderland train station will not go far enough
City leaders have admitted to concerns over multi-million pound plans to overhaul Sunderland’s ‘depressing’ railway station.
Improving facilities at the station to give passengers a better experience and people arriving into the city by rail have been mooted for decades, with the station dubbed ‘depressing’ and ‘rundown’ by some.
Sunderland City Council’s latest spending plans have committed almost £28million to a revamp project, which will see the existing main entrance demolished and rebuilt, with a new 500-space car park added nearby.
But they have also conceded more cash will be needed to fund wider infrastructure improvements.
“Although we have funds and agreements to improve the concourse, there’s a big problem with the platform level at that railway station,” said Liberal Democrat opposition leader Niall Hodson.
“And I am concerned that what we’re looking at here is a sort of surface level revamp.
“This is a big city station used by a lot of people effectively, on a main line.
“Sunderland really does deserve a better railway station and I’m worried that we aren’t going to get that with the amount of funding that’s being pledged.”
Cllr Hodson was speaking at a meeting of the full city council on March 3, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube to set the local authority’s budget and council tax levels for 2021/22.
According to a report for councillors, the revamp plans, which were announced late 2020, almost £20million of the cash allocated to the scheme is expected to come through the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund.
Replacement of the existing southern concourse is expected to provide an ‘improved arrival experience’ to boost city shops and help bring students to the university.
Council leader Graeme Miller told the meeting he shared Cllr Hodson’s concerns, but the council was ‘reliant’ on the government for the money needed for the station scheme.
He added: “It is a massive engineering project and we are continuing to work with the government to ask for that money, so that we can give a proper station to Sunderland, which we need and which everybody will be proud of.
“I want us to have a station that goes all the way, with an increased platform length and we need network rail and government to work with us and give us that financial support.”