PLANS for a £10million scheme to transform Sunderland’s run-down city-centre railway station have been unveiled.
The new proposals would see the 46-year-old building demolished and replaced with a lightweight roof over a new concourse and public area, with space for either the existing or new shops.
City council bosses have agreed to back the project with a £200,000 contribution towards the next stage, which will see more detailed technical assessments and design work carried out.
The council is working with Network Rail, which owns the station, and public transport executive Nexus – operators of the Metro – which will share the remaining £400,000 bill for the first stage work.
Cabinet Secretary Coun Mel Speding said: “This option is not a detailed proposal at this stage, but does point towards a capital cost of £10million to be shared equally by all three partners.
“The current intention would be to commence works on site during the first quarter of 2014.”
The plans come just two years after Nexus invested £7million in an award-winning modernisation of platforms at the station, which is used by more than two million Metro, Northern Rail and Grand Central intercity passengers a year.
The work included refurbished platforms, new lighting, ceilings, floors and wall panelling, and a 150-metre light installation, Platform 5, by Olympic artists Jason Bruges Studio.
Ken Mackay, director of rail and infrastructure for Nexus, said: “We have delivered huge improvements to the below-ground platforms at Sunderland, which we always saw as the first part of a complete redevelopment.
“Nexus owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, which is the major train operator at the station, but we are also pursuing this project as the local passenger transport executive determined to raise the quality of all public transport in partnership with Sunderland City Council.”
A spokesman for Network Rail added: “We are working with partners to develop the station into a modern affordable gateway into the city of Sunderland.
“The designs are in the early stage of development but will complement the work that has already been completed in the below ground station and radically improve the passenger experience.”
Gary Hutchinson, chairman of NECC Sunderland committee, welcomed the move, which he said will radically improve the city.
He said: “This is very welcoming news for the city, in a much needed area.
“The train station of any town or city is a gateway for visitors and our current offering is in much need of development.
“Hopefully this will signal further development and other key areas of our city centre to develop.
“Such announcements will bring confidence to existing and potential businesses who are looking at Sunderland as an investment opportunity.”
The news was also welcomed by the chair of Sunderland City Centre Traders Association.
Harry Collinson, chairman of Sunderland City Centre Traders’ Association, said: “It’s great to have Network Rail, Nexus and the council forming a positive relationship to bring our station into the 21st century, which will show the city in a better light and to prospective businesses thinking about trading in the city.”