North East Leaders condemn Northern Rail’s “crippling” closure of Sunderland station during the festive period

North East Leaders have severely criticised Northern Rail’s announcement that Sunderland Station will be closed or operating severely reduced hours from today (Sunday 18 December) until New Year’s Eve. Metro and rail passengers will be unable to access central Sunderland through the main railway station when it is closed, as the city gears up for the busiest period of the year for retail and hospitality.

Nexus has been working with Northern Rail to try to find solutions to the problem, but so far without success.

Public transport in the city is already being impacted by rail strikes affecting Northern Rail and Network Rail, ongoing industrial action to Stagecoach bus services, and a reduced Metro service because of damage to the power supply on lines run by Network Rail.

Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council and a member of the North East Joint Transport Committee said;

“This is incredibly frustrating. As a council we are investing millions in transforming Sunderland city centre and everyone has been pulling together to make our city a success. Northern Rail’s closure of the main station, for long stretches over Christmas, will be crippling for the city centre just as people are preparing to experience the fantastic retail and hospitality the city has to offer. On top of all of the other public transport disruption that is going on, this is the last thing the city needs.  Northern Rail needs to find a way to keep the station open.”

Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and Leader of Gateshead Council said;

“This is the latest in a catalogue of poor performance and mismanagement of our local rail services. It is beyond the pale to be suddenly told, with almost no notice at all, that Northern Rail will close Sunderland station for the majority of the festive period. This follows months of train cancellations because of staff shortages, on top of the national rail strikes. The economic damage this chaos is causing has gone on long enough, for Sunderland and for the entire North East region. Our region seems to be particularly badly hit by Northern Rail’s poor performance, and I will be writing to the Rail Minister to ask him to find out why – and to fix it.”

Martin Kearney, Managing Director of Nexus said;

“I share the frustration of Metro’s customers and stakeholders in Sunderland and I apologise for the disruption. Sunderland station is operated by Northern Rail, and its closure over large parts of the Christmas period will prevent the Metro from stopping there. Customers for Sunderland city centre will instead need to use Park Lane Interchange. This is on top of the ongoing disruption as a result of damage to Network Rail’s power supply, leading to a reduced frequency through the city and a bus replacement service between Park Lane and South Hylton.  We are doing all that we can to work with our partners to solve these issues quickly, so that Metro can return to its high frequency throughout the city.”

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