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Business & Economy

Contractor appointed for Sunderland railway station

One of Europe’s largest construction companies has been appointed to build the new southern entrance of Sunderland’s railway station.

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

BAM Nuttall has been awarded the contract through the Network Rail Framework, and preparatory works are due to begin in early 2022, with demolition of the existing southern entrance clearing the way for the construction of a new statement building, which will overlook Market Square.

The new entrance features a large glass wrap around 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.

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.

“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 headquarters 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 £26 million 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 £16.3 million.

Working in partnership with Network Rail, Nexus, Grand Central and Northern Rail, Sunderland City Council is driving this project as the first stage of redevelopment of the whole station, which will create an integrated public transport network that matches the city’s ambitions and meets future needs.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “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.

“Their commitment to community wealth building and social value, means that the impact of this development will go way beyond the improvements to city infrastructure.  It will bring about considerable benefits to the city supply chain, and for our people who will access high-value job opportunities as a result.”

He added: “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.”

Having unlocked the funding needed to push ahead with the southern concourse, plans are 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.  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.”

Martin Kearney, Chief operating officer at Nexus,  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.”

Councillor Martin Gannon, chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “This development will be truly transformation for the people of Sunderland and indeed the wider North East, providing high-quality modern facilities for rail passengers on Wearside.

“The project is a major part of the region’s Transforming Cities Fund programme and I’m pleased to see it moving forward with this contract award.”

Sean English, chief operating officer for Grand Central, said: “We’re looking forward to the development of Sunderland station, and the appointment of BAM Nuttall is a huge step towards the delivery of the works.

“Our North East services, operating from Sunderland to London, are incredibly popular with both business and leisure travellers looking for value for money fares and comfortable and reliable rail travel.

“The investment in Sunderland station will create a fantastic environment for our customers and will encourage even more rail travel to the city.”