Transformation of Sunderland railway station moves step forward as latest stage gets approval

Council bosses have agreed the next steps for a planned multi-million pound revamp of Sunderland’s central railway station.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 5:51 pm
How Sunderland's new train station will look after a £26million project expected to take up to six years to complete.
How Sunderland's new train station will look after a £26million project expected to take up to six years to complete.

Working in partnership with Network Rail, Nexus, Grand Central and Northern Rail, Sunderland City Council is driving the project, beginning with the demolition of the southern entrance.

This will clear the way for a new building overlooking Market Square with a large glass wrap-around design, a new ticket office and reception, public toilets, waiting space and retail and cafe facilities.

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Sunderland's new train station plans after multi-million transformation. From left leader of Sunderland City Council Cllr Graeme Miller, station operator regional director at Northern Rail Kerry Peters, chief operating officer at Nexus Martin Kearney and regional director at Network Rail Kieran Dunkin.

Office space on the new mezzanine level will be reserved for railway industry staff, with general improvements to accessibility also expected across the site.

The city council’s ruling cabinet has signed off plans for the train station regeneration, which includes a new 400-space multi-storey car park in Holmeside.

Having unlocked the funding needed to push ahead with the southern concourse and associated car park, city leaders aim to deliver the whole transformation programme over the next six years.

This includes a reimagined northern entrance and works to the platform level, with the ambition to increase capacity by creating a four-track, four-platform station allowing for improved connectivity locally, regionally and nationally.

Sunderland Station

A report on the plans was presented to senior councillors at Tuesday’s (July 13) cabinet meeting, where the next steps of the scheme were agreed.

This includes the council entering into funding agreements with the North East Joint Transport Committee for phase one of the project in respect of the southern entrance and car park and entering into an implementation agreement with Network Rail.

In addition, the cabinet agreed to “take all necessary steps” to procure the delivery of the new Holmeside car park, including awarding a construction contract and the submission of a planning application.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, cabinet member for Dynamic City on the council, welcomed the report and thanked council officers for their work.

Sunderland's new train station plans after multi-million transformation. From left leader of Sunderland City Council Cllr Graeme Miller, station operator regional director at Northern Rail Kerry Peters, chief operating officer at Nexus Martin Kearney and regional director at Network Rail Kieran Dunkin.

He said: “Obviously this is fantastic news for the city as we progress redevelopment plans and another piece of the jigsaw as we see Sunderland being brought into the 21st century.

“Having used the train station myself regularly, most probably over the weekend, you can see how much it’s needed and it’s an absolutely brilliant report and I can’t thank officers enough for bringing this to the cabinet.”

Cabinet also authorised the procurement of all necessary contractors, consultants and professional advisors in connection with the further development of phases two and three of the Sunderland railway station redevelopment.

This includes developing an outline business case and detailed design for a proposed new north entrance and preparing an outline business case and technical case for the proposed expansion to a four-track station upgrade.

More than £16 million has been secured from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund to progress southern entrance works and the car park, with the remaining balance coming from the city council and partners including Nexus and Network Rail.

According to a report prepared for cabinet, the wider redevelopment plans would “connect Sunderland to national and international infrastructure and drive regional economic growth, job creation and other regeneration benefits to the city.”

However, the cabinet report adds that the approach of delivering the council’s full six-year vision will “require government and stakeholder support.”

Councillor Linda Williams, cabinet member for Vibrant City, also welcomed the report and praised the planned approach to phase the works.

She added: “It’s sad to see the [train station concourse] described as dilapidated [in the cabinet report] but actually when you look at it it’s absolutely disgusting.

“I had been wandering around the city centre yesterday afternoon for a while and it’s really sad to see that it has gone into this situation, but so exciting that we can move towards a new build.

“It’s really a sensible approach to take it in stages rather than do one all out and potentially fail.

“To have it planned in stages that will link together but can also go forward separately, is a much more effective way of delivering it.”

Work on the southern entrance of the railway station is expected to get started in August and completion is scheduled for the end of 2022, with the new southern entrance set to open in early 2023.