A TEESSIDE station has undergone a £345,000 refurbishment as a direct Teesside-London service was announced.

The station building at Thornaby has been extended and a new ticket office installed, with extra staff on hand at peak times.

The station has two ticket office windows, rather than one, and extra staff means the office will no longer close during staff handovers. It is also providing extra capacity for passengers after it was announced last month that direct Middlesbrough and Thornaby to London routes would be running from 2020.

Automatic doors, new toilets, a revamped shop and better heating have also been added as part of the improvements, which come courtesy of an investment by the National Station Improvement Programme, which works with train companies including First TransPennine Express, which operates Thornaby.

Mike Drewery, Station Manager for First TransPennine Express, said: "Passengers will see and benefit from a much-improved Thornaby station now.

"Transformed station facilities, including improved access, and the construction of a larger station building will play an important part in boosting station capacity for all our customers. It’s part of our on-going commitment to invest in and improve the services for our passengers.

“Work is now complete and we’d like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience while the work was carried out.”

It was announced last week that the new operators of the East Coast Mainline Franchise, a consortium of Stagecoach and Virgin called Inter City Railways - would introduce 23 new services, including direct links to Thornaby and Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald has been leading calls for the route to be reintroduced - but the direct Teesside-London route will not begin until 2020.

Inter City Railways beat competition from bidders including the Eurotunnel operator to run the East Coast franchise, which has been in public hands since 2009.