A NEW era has dawned at York Station with the opening of a First Class lounge, a Sainsbury's store and new ladies toilets.

Station operator LNER said that today's official opening of the lounge and convenience store marked the completion of a £3.5 million investment inside the railway station, which also included the opening of a new travel centre last autumn.

"York has been one of the largest stations on our route without facilities for First Class customers, so this is an important addition to the station," said a spokesman.

"The First Class Lounge, which has been designed to celebrate some of York’s rich heritage, will help provide an even greater level of customer experience to visitors to the region, as well as to the many local customers who travel regularly with us for business and leisure."

The lounge has been created in a former storage area near Platform 1, while the store is in the former Travel Centre.

The new ladies opened recently in another part of the travel centre and the old gents' toilets have been refurbished as well.

The lounge is decorated by York artists, Kirsty Crowder, Leah Pembleton, Rich Corrigan and Ged Buttress, and the works include a Viking mural and a sculpture, apparently of a Viking helmet, which 'mirrors ancient relics and the stories hidden within, cleverly combining York's famous confectionery with age old crafting techniques.'

An information panel also tells how, while the lounge was being created, interesting archaeological finds were made, including funeral artefacts such as glass vessels, urns and jewellery.