Passengers in east London and Essex can look forward to new trains, more carriages and extra services as Rail Minister Claire Perry officially launched the start of the new Essex Thameside franchise today (10 November 2014).
c2c will operate the new franchise for the next 15 years and will provide an additional fleet of 17 brand new trains, free wi-fi, special discounted fares and innovative new ways to purchase tickets.
The deal announced in June will support the government’s £38 billion investment programme in Britain’s railways over the next 5 years.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said:
Passengers deserve the best from our railways, and they will see the biggest ever package of benefits from this franchise, with new and improved trains and extra services. The technology improvements that I have seen today will also make planning journeys and buying tickets easier than before. It is great to see c2c really thinking about what their passengers need.
We are also investing record amounts in improving and maintaining the national network, with more than £38 billion being spent over the next 5 years as part of our long-term economic plan to build a world-class railway.
As part of the deal, c2c, which is owned by National Express, has committed to rolling out a host of passenger benefits costing around £160 million. These include:
an additional fleet of 17 brand new trains providing almost 4,800 extra seats
more than 25,000 additional seats for morning peak time passengers every week by the end of the contract
free wi-fi at stations and on board trains
an enhanced compensation system, meaning customers who use smart tickets will automatically receive compensation if their train is delayed
over £30 million invested in improving stations, including Fenchurch Street and Barking
complete step-free access at all stations, providing improved accessibility for people with limited mobility and parents with buggies and push chairs
more than 200 new car parking spaces and £457,000 invested in improving cycling facilities and accessibility at stations.
Under the new franchise season ticket holders will now be able to take advantage of a new Oyster-style c2c Smart card, which will later be extended to cover day travel on all rail journeys in London and south east.
c2c has also committed to hitting tough new targets for punctuality, which means more than 90% of services will be required to reach their destination within 1 minute of the timetable by December 2018.
c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said:
Today we are launching the biggest single package of improvements for passengers ever seen on c2c. Our main focus in this new franchise is to improve the experience for passengers when they are using c2c. We’re aiming to excel in this area, and develop our reputation as a high-quality service as well as a punctual and reliable train operator.
c2c has been operated by National Express since 2000, and is in the top 10 franchises for overall passenger satisfaction. c2c will now continue to operate the route until 2029.
The deal will mean the total number of vehicles serving the franchise will increase to 364 by 2024. The current fleet will be fitted with wi-fi technology and will also be refurbished.