Sunderland station

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Sunderland National Rail Tyne and Wear Metro
Sunderland railway station 02.jpg
The 1965 British Rail Architects' Department station buildings in 2019
Local authorityCity of Sunderland
Coordinates54°54′22″N 1°22′55″W / 54.906°N 1.382°W / 54.906; -1.382Coordinates: 54°54′22″N 1°22′55″W / 54.906°N 1.382°W / 54.906; -1.382
Grid referenceNZ396569
Station codeSUN
Managed byNorthern
Number of platforms4 (2 National Rail)
(2 Tyne & Wear Metro)
DfT categoryC2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Decrease 0.792 million
2014/15Decrease 0.466[note 1][1] million
2015/16Increase 0.475 million
2016/17Increase 0.484 million
2017/18Decrease 0.448 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTETyne & Wear (Nexus)
Zonesee Metro panel below
Original companyNorth Eastern Railway
4 August 1879[2]Opened as Sunderland Central
1965Modernised station buildings opened
5 May 1969[2]Renamed as Sunderland
2002Conversions for heavy rail and Metro services
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Sunderland from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
Newcastle - Middlesbrough express in 1953

Sunderland station is a National Rail and Tyne & Wear Metro station in the city centre of Sunderland, North East England. Both heavy rail and light rail services use the same platforms.[citation needed] Although the tracks are shared by light and heavy rail vehicles between Sunderland and Pelaw, Northern trains do not call at any of the intermediate stations.[3]

The south end of Sunderland Station in 1965

Earlier stations[edit]

The first railway passenger services to Sunderland were provided by the Durham & Sunderland Railway Company in 1836, initially linking it to Hetton and Haswell.[4] The line approached from the south along the coast and the terminus was near South Dock, which was known as Town Moor station. The Durham & Sunderland Railway slowly extended their line towards the intended terminus in Durham though the eventual terminus, which opened in 1839, was at Shincliffe Town just outside the city[5] and it was not until the North Eastern Railway extended the line to Durham Elvet that this line finally reached Durham.[6]

Undistinguished either in architecture, convenience or accommodation it was replaced 22 years later by Hendon station, half a mile to the south, at a point where the line had to be joined by the Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway Company's line to Penshaw and Durham (which had opened in 1853).[7]

In 1854 the Marquis of Londonderry opened the Londonderry, Seaham & Sunderland Railway to link the existing Londonderry and South Hetton Collieries to the South Dock which, from 1855, carried passengers between Seaham Harbour and a terminus at Hendon Burn. Londonderry Railway services began to use Durham & Sunderland Railway's terminus in 1868.[5]

Meanwhile, the Newcastle & Darlington Company had built their station at Fawcett Street (opened in 1863[5]), just south of the site of the present station.

On 4 August 1879, the North Eastern Railway Company opened a line from Ryhope Grange Junction over the river to Monkwearmouth, and a new station was built on the present site[7] to the designs of architect William Peachey. Both of the other stations at Hendon and Fawcett Street were closed on the same date. The new station served passengers of both the North Eastern Railway and the independent Londonderry Railway until the latter sold its Seaham to Sunderland route to the former in 1900, allowing the North Eastern Railway to extend the line along the coast to create a new through route to West Hartlepool which opened in 1905.[5]

The current station, known as Sunderland Central at that time, was known locally as the New Station. Its platforms and lines lie in a cutting running north and south bounded by retaining walls to the east and west. Its single entrance and street-level buildings were at the North End, but a second entrance and associated buildings at the south were added five years later. The platform area was covered by an overall semi-elliptical arched-rib roof which together with the North End buildings, was badly damaged by bombs in 1943.[8]

In 1953, the old roof was replaced by umbrella-type roofing and the south end buildings were given an interim facelift, the complete rebuilding being deferred to enable advantage to be taken of the site's potential for property development and to ensure compatibility with the town's proposals for the redevelopment of this central area.

The new station was designed by H.N. Cameron, D. Mansbridge and M. Steeples[9] of the British Rail Architects' Department[10] under its chief architect Frederick Francis Charles Curtis. Complete rebuilding of the station was accomplished by November 1965.


The current station buildings, which opened after re-building work in November 1965, formed at that time part of a complete rebuilding scheme which involved almost the entire area of the station site which was decked over and developed at street level.

The buildings covered the south end of the station area and a two-storey block of 20 shops, which were built by City and Central Shops Limited, occupies the central area. The old station buildings at the North End, which were retained in use until the new properties were being developed, were closed and demolished. In that area British Railways provided new premises for parcels traffic and Post Office Mails, which were redeveloped with the alterations to the platforms for Metro train services in 2002, and Littlewood's Mail Order Stores Limited (now occupied by Poundland), developed a four-storey department store with a main frontage on to High Street West.

In November 1965, following the withdrawal of local stopping train services on the lines to West Hartlepool, Durham and South Shields (due to the Beeching Axe), passenger trains were concentrated on one island platform with access to the concourse area by a dual 'one-direction' stairway. The second island platform was given over to the working of parcels traffic as a new parcels office premises was to be built at the North End and brought into use. Prior to this (certainly in 1962/3), the parcels traffic was being dealt with at the North End using the old stables block to the West for deliveries and a similar sized room at the East side for incoming parcels. Parcels traffic at the time included pigeon specials, heavy engineering parts, parcels to Europe, greyhounds to Ireland and the occasional corpse! There was also a parcels clerk at the Brian Mills Mail Order Depot.

Also at that time, the revised station working enabled the running lines and sidings at the south end of the station to be simplified. The consequent reduction in permanent way (i.e. railway track) released areas of land at track level which was available for the erection of support for further street level development between Athenaeum Street and Holmside bridges and also on the south side of Holmeside.

At the time that the modernised buildings opened from 4 November 1965, train services from Sunderland included a half hourly service each weekday to and from Newcastle, and an hourly service to and from West Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, with additional trains at peak periods. There were also then through morning trains to London and to Liverpool, and a sleeping car service to London every night of the week. Good connections were available from Newcastle with all parts of the country.

Refurbishment of the station[edit]

Nexus, the operator of the Tyne & Wear Metro, announced a £7 million refurbishment of the 140-metre platform areas at Sunderland in 2006. The project was to be funded by the Department for Transport in an innovative scheme in which the money 'saved' by reducing a subsidised local Northern Trains service in favour of Metro was converted into a lump sum for capital investment. While Nexus does not own or manage the station (it is owned by Network Rail and managed by Northern), it said it wanted to invest as the major operator. Work started on refurbishing Sunderland Station in January 2008.[11] An escalator is in place at the station which started working from December 2008.

The second stage of development in the station began in September 2009 and was completed in July 2010. Nexus appointed Sadler Brown Architecture to develop the design led by Arup Consulting Engineers which incorporated the work of three artists, Jason Bruges Studio, Julian Germain and Morag Morrison.

Jason Bruges Studio have created a 140-metre light wall with individual LED units containing an animated display. Julian Germain is providing a sequence of 41 photographs of everyday items 'lost' in a Metro environment, while Morag Morrison is designing coloured glass wall panels for buildings along the island platform.

The project also saw an entirely new floor, ceilings and lighting, substantial improvements to existing walls and a significant re-organisation of buildings and waiting areas on the platforms.

The modernisation of the station was featured in a 2012 Intel advert.

As of October 2015, it was announced that plans were being formulated for refurbishment of the upper concourse and exterior of Sunderland station to improve its image and access. Sunderland city council with its partners in the project Nexus and Network Rail said "We are currently finalising a detailed design solution with partners Network Rail and Nexus. In the meantime, we are working on options to secure some further funding to make the project happen, which will include improvements to the external space surrounding the station."[12]

On 20 September 2017 Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott contacted Network Rail about the redevelopment of the above ground station, Plans for a £13.55million scheme to transform Sunderland's run-down city centre railway station were unveiled in 2012. Sunderland City Council and Nexus have already committed £7.25million to the project, leaving a funding gap of £6.1million. A joint working group has also been established to progress the scheme. Mrs Elliott MP has issued the communication to Network Rail in order to accelerate progress on the scheme.[citation needed]


The station is on two levels, the ticket office is at street level and is staffed seven days a week. A fast food outlet and patisserie on the concourse offer refreshment facilities. A waiting room and seats are provided at platform level, with the two floors connected by lifts and escalators (the platforms are therefore fully accessible for wheelchair users). Train running information is offered via CIS displays, automated announcements and timetable posters.[13]


From 2002 when the station was remodelled to accommodate Metro services, the layout was unique in Great Britain. The station has a large central island platform with each side split into four numbered platforms. Northern services call at Platforms 1 and 4 at the northern end, while Platforms 2 and 3 at the southern end are for Metro services. Since 2018, with the opening of the Sheffield Supertram tram-train platforms, Rotherham Central shares the same layout as Sunderland.

Key to diagram[edit]

The track layout at Sunderland station
  • Black lines: Track shared by Metro and mainline services, electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.
  • Green lines: Track used by Metro services only, electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.
  • Blue lines: Track used by mainline services only, not electrified.
  • Grey area: covered station shed.
  • Maroon area: Platforms.
  • Platform 1: Southbound mainline services.
  • Platform 2: Southbound Metro services.
  • Platform 3: Northbound Metro services.
  • Platform 4: Northbound mainline services.
  • A: Towards Newcastle
  • B: From Newcastle
  • C: From South Hylton
  • D: To South Hylton
  • E: Electrified siding
  • F: Non-electrified siding
  • G: From Middlesbrough
  • H: Towards Middlesbrough

Metro services[edit]

Tyne & Wear Metro
BSicon lINT.svg
Metro departing Sunderland station.jpg
Metro train departing Sunderland towards South Hylton
PlaceSunderland City Centre
Local authoritySunderland
Fare zone information
Network One zone4
Metro zoneC
Original (1979) zone57
Station codeSUN
Metro Usage0.77[14] million
Metro since31 March 2002
List of stations

Metro services run at a peak of five per hour in each direction calling at all stations. To the south, services run to South Hylton along the alignment of the Sunderland to Durham mainline that fell victim to the Beeching cutbacks in May 1964. The first station is Park Lane, which provides a direct interchange with the bus and coach station. The line opened on 31 March 2002.[15]

Northbound, the first station is St Peter's which is a couple of hundred yards south of the long closed Monkwearmouth station that was a museum from 1981 to 2017, when it then was sold to a private owner who then closed the museum and sold off the exhibits.

The track is shared with mainline trains as far as Pelaw Metro Junction, just south of Pelaw Metro station. The former mainline stations at Brockley Whins, East Boldon, Seaburn are now served only by the Metro. In addition new stations at Fellgate, the Stadium of Light, and St Peter's were constructed.

On 12 December 2005 the Yellow and Green Lines of the Metro swapped routes between Pelaw and South Shields / Sunderland and South Hylton, meaning that there is a direct rail link between Sunderland and Newcastle Airport for the first time.

Mainline services[edit]

The current regional operator Northern provides an off-peak service of one train per hour, cut from a half-hourly service on 12 December 2005, between Sunderland and Newcastle in both directions, with many trains also running to the MetroCentre, Hexham, Carlisle, Middlesbrough and Nunthorpe (two also continue through to Whitby).[16] A similar frequency operates on Sundays.

There is an hourly Northern service to Newcastle station is considered an express service, calling only at Heworth, a journey time of only 20 minutes between Sunderland and Newcastle. This service also continues to Hexham station via Gateshead Metrocentre. The former Arriva Trains Northern service also called at Seaburn, East Boldon and Brockley Whins is now provided only by the Tyne and Wear Metro.

There was a TransPennine Express service to Liverpool Lime Street linking Sunderland to Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York, Darlington and Durham. This service was operated by Northern Spirit and subsequently Arriva Trains Northern from 1998, but the change of franchise operator to First TransPennine Express in December 2004 has resulted in the end of these services as Newcastle is now the full-time terminus for the route.

In January 2006, open-access operator Grand Central was granted permission to run three trains per day from Sunderland to London Kings Cross via Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe (for Middlesbrough), Northallerton, Thirsk and York. Grand Central began running services on 18 December 2007 and in 2009, Grand Central began running a fourth daily service to London. This increased again to five trains per day in December 2012.[17]

On 14 December 2015, Virgin Train East Coast (VTEC) launched their new daily direct train service to London Kings Cross.[18] Following the demise of VTEC, this service (along with all of their other timetabled services) was taken over by the government owned London North Eastern Railway.[19]

Future developments[edit]

It is possible that the Leamside line may be re-opened. This starts at the Pelaw Junction on the Sunderland to Newcastle line and runs through to the Tursdale junction just north of Ferryhill, County Durham. The Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions has expressed concern at the delays in determining the future of this line.[20] The former Sunderland to Durham line joined this line approximately two miles west of the current Metro terminal at South Hylton, so any re-opening could also involve extension of the Metro.

When Virgin/Stagecoach were announced as the winners of the InterCity East Coast franchise in November 2014 their plans included a daily service from Sunderland to London Kings Cross which commenced in December 2015. A second return journey from Sunderland to London Kings Cross is expected to commence before 2020.[21]

The new Northern rail franchise agreement that started on 1 April 2016 includes plans to increase the frequency of services on the Middlesbrough–Sunderland–Newcastle route (and onwards to Carlisle) from the currently hourly frequency to every 30 minutes on weekdays from December 2017. Upgraded rolling stock will be used British Rail Class 142 trains are to be withdrawn by 2019), being replaced with refurbished Class 158. Some Northern services are also to run limited stop south of here.[22]


The Tyne and Wear Metro uses overhead electrification at 1500 volts DC. This is incompatible with UK mainline electrification, which uses 25,000 volts AC.


  1. ^ The sharp decrease in numbers is due to the Tyne and Wear PTE infill Methodology. See reference attached.


  1. ^ "ORR Estimate of station usage" (PDF). ORR. ORR. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b Butt 1995, p. 223.
  3. ^ Northern (13 December 2009). "Northern Train Times: Sunderland and Newcastle to Carlisle" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2012.
  4. ^ Body 1988, p. 163.
  5. ^ a b c d Sinclair, Neil T. (1985). Railways of Sunderland. Tyne and Wear County Council Museums. pp. 9, 10, 13, 14, 54 & 62. ISBN 0905974247.
  6. ^ "Sherburn House". Disused Stations. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b Body 1988, p. 164.
  8. ^ Body 1988, p. 165.
  9. ^ Lawrence, David (2018). British Rail Architecture 1948-97. Crecy Publishing Ltd. p. 117. ISBN 9780860936855.
  10. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus; Williamson, Elizabeth (1983). The Buildings of England. County Durham. Yale University Press. p. 454. ISBN 9780300095999.
  11. ^ "Sunderland Station refurbishment".
  12. ^ "Sunderland railway station's £10m revamp is finally set to go ahead". Sunderland Echo. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Sunderland station facilities". National Rail Enquiries. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Tyne & Wear Metro usage figures". 2017–2018. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  15. ^ "South Hylton". Disused Stations. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  16. ^ GB National Rail Timetable 2018-19, Table 44
  17. ^ Grand Central. "Extra Daily Service to and from London Kings Cross from December". Grand Central Trains (Press release). Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  18. ^ GB National Rail Timetable 2018-19, Table 26
  19. ^ Calder, Simon (24 June 2018). "East Coast Main Line returns to public owner ship after "total failure of privatisation"". The Independent. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  20. ^ Railfuture. "Memorandum by Railfuture (NT 43)".
  21. ^ StageCoach Group (27 November 2014). "Stagecoach-Virgin Company Awarded Intercity East Coast Rail Franchise" (Press release).
  22. ^ "Northern Franchise Improvements". Department for Transport.


  • Body, G. (1988), PSL Field Guides - Railways of the Eastern Region Volume 2, Patrick Stephens Ltd, Wellingborough, ISBN 1-85260-072-1
  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199.

External links[edit]

Preceding station   Tyne and Wear Metro   Following station
towards Airport
Green line
towards South Hylton
National Rail National Rail
Terminus   London North Eastern Railway
Grand Central
  Historical railways  
Ryhope East
Line open, station closed
  London and North Eastern Railway
Durham Coast Line
Line open, station closed
Terminus   London and North Eastern Railway
Sunderland-South Shields
Line open, station closed
Line and station open
  London and North Eastern Railway
Penshaw branch
Line and station closed
  London and North Eastern Railway
Durham to Sunderland Line