'Transformational' plans for Sunderland station press ahead as top European contractor appointed to make vision a reality

‘Transformational’ plans for Sunderland’s ‘depressing’ train station have taken a step forward after a top European construction company was appointed to turn the artist’s impressions into reality.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 12:53 pm

Construction and engineering specialist BAM Nuttall has been appointed as the principal contractor by Network Rail, after ambitious plans for the train station’s revamp were approved by Sunderland City Council in July.

BAM Nuttall has been awarded the contract through the Network Rail Framework, with preparatory works due to begin in early 2022 when the demolition of the existing southern entrance will clear the way for what the team call a ‘statement building’ overlooking Market Square.

The new entrance will feature a large glass wraparound design, and will include a new ticket office and reception, public toilets, retail space and cafes, comfortable waiting areas, as well as a new mezzanine level that will have office space reserved for railway industry staff. It is the first part of a six-year programme that will see the northern entrance of the station reimagined and platform-level works undertaken to increase the capacity of the station, with four tracks and four platforms to separate Nexus and Metro from mainline services.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

How the new Sunderland station could look once work is complete.

Rob Storrie, project director for BAM Nuttall, said: “We know that this project has been a long-time in the making for Sunderland’s rail passengers and we’re delighted to get the green light to proceed.

"Our priority throughout will be to deliver this project safely and with minimum of disruption to passengers. Working with Network Rail and train operators, we will be putting temporary ticketing and access measures in place within the next few weeks before dismantling of the old station begins.

“We hope that the new station will be a welcome change for all passengers. The building features a glazed façade that will help create a bright welcoming concourse. It will provide a much more fitting gateway to Sunderland and we hope that it will encourage even greater use of the railway in the North East.”

Tony Fitzgerald, construction director for BAM Construct UK’s North East team, said: “We have significant buildings under construction across Teesside, Tyneside and further afield.

How the new Sunderland station could look once work is complete.

"You cannot fail to see the significance of the new station to Sunderland’s appeal to visitors and commuters alike. We’ll work closely and effectively with our colleagues in BAM Nuttall, as we have down the coast at Redcar Cinema, to create sustainable, high-quality facilities that add value back to the community.”

BAM Construct UK was the contractor behind the Network Rail National Centre. It is also at work on Home Group’s HQ in Newcastle, and the Northern School of Art in Middlesbrough.

The company has committed to deliver a range of community wealth building commitments, meaning that local people and businesses will benefit heavily from the £26million construction programme, which has been part-funded by the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF). The overall TCF package for Sunderland Station improvements and associated works is £16.3million.

Network Rail, Nexus, Grand Central, Northern Rail and Sunderland City Council are all working in partnership on the project, which they say as the first stage of redevelopment of the whole station.

How the new Sunderland station could look once work is complete.

Council leader Graeme Miller said the development will create ‘an integrated public transport network that matches the city’s ambitions and meets future needs’.

“Sunderland deserves a station that reflects our ambition as a city, and alongside the incredible transformation and positive developments ongoing at Riverside Sunderland and beyond, we’re establishing this as a world-class place to live, work and play,” said Cllr Miller.

“We’re delighted to be working with BAM Nuttall to develop a station that will improve the overall travel experience to and from Sunderland and making it a station we can all be proud of.”

Plans are also taking shape for the second stage of the station’s transformation to deliver a reimagined northern entrance, with attractive public realm to create the Central Business District statement building and gateway entrance on High Street West.

How the new Sunderland station could look once work is complete.

The northern entrance will become the city’s main arrival point, with Mackies Corner and the Elephant Tearooms just two of the impressive buildings greeting people coming into Sunderland.

Major works to the platform-level of the station are included in the future third stage plans, with the ambition to increase connectivity and grow public transport by creating a four track, four platform station that separates Nexus and Metro, on one platform, from mainline services allowing both to expand as public transport connections regionally and nationally, and enabling them to provide access to jobs, to secure investment and to grow the economy.

Network Rail will be overseeing the southern entrance works. Kieran Dunkin, principal programme sponsor from Network Rail, said: “Awarding the full build contract to BAM Nuttall marks a major step forward into the construction stage of this project.

“We are committed to working with BAM, Sunderland City Council and other key stakeholders to make the most of this significant investment for rail customers in Sunderland. This means delivering the works safely, responsibly and to a high standard befitting of the ambitious plans being developed for the city.”

Chief Operating Officer at Nexus, Martin Kearney, said: “I’m delighted that a construction contractor has been appointed for this exciting £26m project that will transform Sunderland station, a key gateway into the city. We can now look forward to the works getting underway in 2022.

“Metro customers make almost 1.5 million journeys a year through Sunderland station, where our frequent services connect easily with Intercity and regional trains, as well as having the city centre on the doorstep. Our customers can look forward to travelling to a bright new station at the same time that Metro’s new train fleet begins to enter use.”

Support your Echo and become a subscriber today.

Enjoy unlimited access to all of our news and sport, see fewer ads, experience faster load times, test your brain with daily puzzles and get access to exclusive newsletters.

Your support for our journalism means we can continue telling Sunderland’s stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe - and click here to get a snapshot of the Echo’s news and sport to your inbox through our email newsletters.