c2c and the Department for Transport have reached agreement for the 24 new carriages, being built by Bombardier in Derby, to operate on the c2c route for the next three years. The new carriages will start entering passenger service from October, subject to the final signing of contracts, with all the new trains delivered by the end of the year.
The new trains will be leased until 2019, and will increase the total size of c2c’s fleet to 320 carriages.
The company says that there has been an unprecedented 8% increase in passengers travelling to London during the morning peak in the last six months.
Recent changes to the c2c timetable, however, have prompted fury from commuters. The new timetable, introduced in December, has increased some journey times and caused overcrowding by making more stops in East London. The introduction of more four-carriage services, instead of eight carriages, has also added to overcrowding, especially in the evenings.
From 2019, c2c has existing plans to introduce 68 new carriages to the route. The formal procurement process for the first tranche of these new trains started earlier this month, with the manufacturer expected to be appointed in the summer.
As a further part of these changes, in the short term c2c will be making amendments to the timetable from Sunday 15 May, including:
- Some evening services combined, to provide longer trains and reduce the number of four-carriage services at peak times
- Changes to the stopping pattern for a number of services, including:
o Additional services to West Horndon in the morning peak
o Additional services to Upminster in the evening peak
o Additional free seats at Basildon and Laindon on the most crowded service of the day, which will now no longer stop at Benfleet or Barking
o Limited other peak services no longer stopping at Barking. While this is a result of overcrowding, c2c is still providing Barking passengers with a significant increase in the total number of peak services over the past six months.
These timetable changes will be reviewed again in December once the additional carriages are in service.
The extra capacity provided by new carriages augment the existing extra capacity provided by c2c’s timetable changes in December and January, which increased the number of seats at peak times by 1,400 and provided room for 3,000 more passengers.
c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said: “Extra carriages are absolutely vital for c2c to meet the surge in demand from passengers who want to travel. This agreement is hugely important, as we will now get new carriages on c2c within six months when they normally take years to be delivered. Combined with the other changes we are making in both the short- and long-term, this is the most significant increase in capacity for c2c passengers for over a decade.
“Thank you to all our passengers for bearing with us while we have been working so hard on getting these new trains. We have heard loud and clear that a number of peak-time services are very busy, and now we will be able to address the issues that our passengers have raised.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry MP said: “I have asked c2c to speed up the process of getting new trains for their customers and it is great to see this happening. This confirms c2c’s well-deserved reputation for customer care.
“These extra carriages will make a huge difference, allowing passengers to benefit from longer trains, more seats and better journeys along the busy c2c routes.”
Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, said: “I am delighted that c2c have been able to secure more carriages and I am grateful to the Government for its support. I am pleased that c2c have been able to refine the timetable so that there are fewer stops at Barking. This will alleviate the congestion caused by one-stop passengers. I will maintain my dialogue with c2c and with Government to make sure that c2c delivers the best service it is able.”
James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “I know that passengers will be delighted to learn that c2c have acquired additional carriages that will provide extra capacity on the trains. c2c have made a number of changes to improve the new timetable and this latest announcement is testament to their approach to deal with the increased passenger numbers and to improve the journey. I look forward to seeing these carriages in operation along the route and I am positive c2c will make further changes should they be required to address the challenges that have been faced since December.”
Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, said: “For months John Baron MP and I have been working with both c2c and the DfT to help find a way forward and I hope these changes will deliver the kind of change our constituents have been asking for.”
“I look forward to continuing to work with all parties to build on this very positive news.”
John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay, said: “I welcome the announcement by c2c that new carriages have been obtained and trust this and the timetable changes will relieve overcrowding for commuters. Stephen Metcalfe and I have been working with both c2c and the Department for Transport to bring these changes about and I will be monitoring progress carefully.”
Earlier this year c2c provided compensation to season ticket holders as a cash apology for the disruption they had faced following changes made to timetable in January.