Human faeces falls onto platform in sewage leak at Sunderland station

Stock picture of Sunderland station
Stock picture of Sunderland station
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Human waste fell onto a main platform at Sunderland station in a sewage leak which saw faeces "lying in puddles" on the concourse.

Trains arriving from London were forced to switch platforms after the leak, which has been condemned as "outrageous" and sparked fresh anger over the state of the station.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, who brought incident to light in her column for the Sunderland Echo, slammed train bosses over their handling of the incident.

"Areas were cordoned off. Human faeces, however, could still be seen lying in puddles of fluid," she said.

"It is outrageous that such a problem – a real danger to health – could occur in Sunderland and not merit an urgent response. The people of this city deserve much better than this."

"I have now been assured the sewage issue has been rectified, however I intend to monitor it closely. I will certainly be seeking assurances this vile situation never, ever happens again.

Related: Man caught defecating at Sunderland Railway Station avoids court action

Network Rail, which owns the station, has apologised for the sewage leak, which happened earlier this month, and confirmed repairs had now been carried out.

It is the latest episode in the long-running controversy over Sunderland train station.

Ms Elliott has long pressed for improved station facilities in Sunderland, and it is an issue that stretches long back.

The 50-year-old station, which is owned by Network Rail and managed by Northern Rail, is used by thousands Metro passengers as well as those travelling on Grand Central and Virgin's East Coast's rail services from Sunderland to London, and Northern Rail's route from Carlisle to Nunthorpe.

Related: 'Is there a worst train station in Britain?' Disgust over Sunderland station after sewage leak

Some improvements were carried out by Metro operator Nexus in a £7million project in 2010, and plans for a new station building were mooted in 2012, but have so far failed to come to fruition.

However, Ms Elliott said urgent improvements were needed and failure to act would impact on Sunderland's hopes for the future.

"Our station is rundown, offers a very poor welcome to the city – and doesn’t even have a public toilet," she said.

"This is just not good enough. In six months Sunderland will host the world-famous Tall Ships Races but, if visitors arrive via rail, their first impression of our city will be very poor indeed."

She added: "I have made strenuous efforts over many months to galvanise Network Rail, which owns the station, into action and provide the funding desperately needed for regeneration."

"Frustratingly, despite asking for an urgent meeting with Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, back in September, this has yet to happen – although a meeting has been planned to take place mid-March.

"I intend to let Mr Carne know just how important this funding is to Sunderland."

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “The burst sewerage pipe at Sunderland station has now been repaired and we’re working with colleagues at Northern to prevent future incidents.

"We apologise for any inconvenience or distress caused.”

A spokeswoman for Grand Central confirmed its train services were affected and were using Platforms 3 and 4 while Network Rail worked to resolve the situation.