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Looking north along the platforms at Sunderland station
Place Sunderland
Local authority City of Sunderland
Coordinates 54°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
Managed by Northern Rail
Platforms in use 4
Annual rail passenger usage
2004/05 * 0.459 million
2005/06 * 0.431 million
2006/07 * 0.350 million
2007/08 * 0.354 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE Tyne and Wear (Nexus)
Zone 57
1879 Originally opened August 1879
1965 Modernised station buildings opened
2002 Conversions for heavy rail and Metro services
National Rail - UK railway stations
* Annual passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Sunderland from Office of Rail Regulation statistics.
Reproduction of a contemporary print showing the interior of Sunderland Station soon after it was opened from 1879
The south end of Sunderland Station in 1965

Sunderland Station is a National Rail and Tyne and Wear Metro station in the city centre of Sunderland, North East England. It is the only station in the country where both heavy rail and light rail services use the same platforms. Although the tracks are shared by light and heavy rail vehicles between Sunderland and Pelaw, Northern Rail trains do not call at any of the intermediate stations.[1]


Earlier stations

The first railway passenger services to Sunderland were provided by the Durham & Sunderland Railway Company in 1836.[2] The line approached from the south along the coast and the terminus was near South Dock, which was known as Town Moor station.

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[3])

Meanwhile the Newcastle & Darlington Company had built their station at Fawcett Street, 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.[4] Both of the other stations at Hendon and Fawcett Street were closed on the same date.

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 over-all semi-elliptical arched-rib roof which together with the North End buildings, was badly damaged by bombs in 1943.[3]

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 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 T J Hughes), 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, 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 the parcels traffic was being dealt with at Monkwearmouth.

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

Nexus, the operator of the Tyne and 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 innovate 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. Article on the Nexus site 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 is due to be completed in May 2010. Nexus has unveiled plans by architects Reid Jubb Brown and consulting engineers Arup incorporating the work of three artists, Jason Bruges Studio, Julian Germain and Morag Morrision.

Jason Bruges Studio will create 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 will also see entirely new floors, ceilings and lighting, substantial improvements to existing walls and a significant reorganisation of buildings and waiting areas on the platforms.


Since 2002 when the station was remodelled to accommodate Metro services the layout has been unique in Great Britain. The station has a large central island platform with each side split into four numbered platforms. Northern Rail services call at Platforms 1 and 4 at the northern end, while Platforms 2 and 3 at the southern end are for Metro services.


Key to diagram

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

BSicon INT legende.svg
Sunderland station
Metro train departing Sunderland towards South Hylton.
Place Sunderland City Centre
Local authority Sunderland
Fare zone information
Network Zone 57
Metro Zone C
Metro since 2002-03-31
Tyne and Wear Metro
List of Tyne and Wear Metro 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 to the Beeching Axe in the 1960s. The first station is Park Lane, which provides a direct interchange with the bus and coach station.

Northbound, the first station is St Peter's which is a couple of hundred yards south of the long closed Monkwearmouth station that is now a museum.

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

The current regional operator Northern Rail 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 shopping centre, Hexham, Carlisle and Middlesbrough.

The service to Newcastle railway station is now considered an express service, calling only at Heworth, which is also served by the Metro, but the lines are segregated at this point. The former stopping service (which called at Seaburn, East Boldon and Brockley Whins) is now provided only by the Metro.

A bihourly transpennine service to Liverpool Lime Street was operated by Northern Spirit and subsequently Arriva Trains Northern from 1998, linking Sunderland to Manchester, Leeds, York, Darlington and Durham but the change of franchise holder to the First Keolis Group in December 2004 has resulted in the termination of these services.

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

Future developments

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 [1]. 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.


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. Additionally the reconstruction of the station to allow the Metro services to call here now means that Mark IV coaches, now cannot call at the station, even if diesel hauled, as they are out-of-gauge.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Body, p.163
  3. ^ a b Body, p.165
  4. ^ Body, p.164


  • Body, G. (1988), PSL Field Guides - Railways of the Eastern Region Volume 2, Patrick Stephens Ltd, Wellingborough, ISBN 1-85260-072-1

External links


Preceding station   TWMetro logo no text.PNG Tyne and Wear Metro   Following station
towards Airport
Green line
towards South Hylton
National Rail
Grand Central
Northern Rail


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