A national train provider has added Sunderland onto its list of rail destinations.
Virgin Trains has announced a new direct return service from the city to London.
The service, which will start on December 14, will feature early morning departures.
David Horne, Managing Director at Virgin Trains, said: “This is a hugely exciting day for us as we move towards operating more services, and adding Sunderland to the Virgin rail map.
“The new services mark a major milestone in Virgin Trains’ ambitious plans to transform services on its East Coast route, which also includes £140m investment to deliver an improved service and more personalised customer experience.
“Business customers have been calling for more early-morning departures that will give them a longer day in the capital and we’re delighted to be delivering on our promise by launching these extra services.”
Customers in Sunderland will see a new 5.40am departure, arriving in London King’s Cross at 9.08am. With the return service departing London at 8pm. Both services will be faster than existing direct trains to Sunderland, by seven minutes southbound and 11 minutes northbound.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “The new Sunderland service will provide better journeys for customers across the region and boost economic ties between the north east and the capital, stimulating growth. It will play an important role in our ambitious plans to build a Northern Powerhouse and create a balanced, healthier economy.
“Along with the additional services for Scotland and Yorkshire, this is further proof that the new East Coast franchise is delivering real benefits for customers across the UK.”
Tickets for the new Sunderland service are now on sale at virgintrainseastcoast.com