The new-look Newcastle Central Station is beginning to take shape as work has now been completed on its historic entrance.
It has been transformed as part of an £8.6m makeover which has seen the glazing over of the 19th Century arches, turning the once gloomy front portico into a traveller-friendly area.
As part of this the walls of the station have been sandblasted and new lights fitted.
Inside the main station the current ticket office has been reduced in size and the space handed over for shops, with booking facilities moving to a new site just past the Sainsbury’s shop.
East Coast, which manages the station, has increased the amount of space for shops and food stalls at the station as a result of the Department for Transport grant.
It follows years of discussions between business groups, council leaders and Network Rail to turn the station into a more impressive “gateway” to the city.
The station is one of the country’s busiest outside of London, with an annual footfall of around eight million.
Tim Hedley-Jones, East Coast’s property and projects director, said: “We are very pleased to have completed the transformation of Newcastle Central station, to create a new- look gateway for the city and the North East.
“The heritage of the Grade-One listed Victorian building has been enhanced, most notably through the striking new public space of the station’s portico.
“Customers will benefit from exciting new retailers, additional toilet facilities on the concourse adjacent to Platform 12 and a clearer station layout.”
East Coast has worked in partnership on the project with Network Rail, which owns the station building.
A Newcastle-based team from Ryder Architecture has designed the improvements to the building, while works have been carried out by Miller Construction’s North East team.
Matt Raynor, project manager for Miller Construction, said: “The transformed Newcastle station provides a stunning new facility for passengers, whilst enhancing the historic original Victorian station design.
“The entrance was dark and had suffered from more than 150 years of pollution and general wear and tear.
“The biggest challenge we faced was the fact that Newcastle remained a busy operational station throughout the year-long construction work and disruption had to be kept to a minimum.”
Newcastle Central station is one of only six Grade One listed railway stations in the UK. The station’s layout opens up sightlines towards the Castle Keep, whilst showcasing the curvature of the station’s arched roof.
East Coast has already secured nine retailers, including major high street names, for the new spaces in the station. Taxis are available at a new rank to the east of the entrance.
Newcastle City Council and NE1 are continuing work on a complementary project which aims to improve access to this area of the city centre.
Council leader Coun Nick Forbes said: “The glass portico is an iconic space – a demonstration of the changing face of Newcastle and another milestone in the regeneration of our great city.”