Local rail passengers are set to benefit from a four-phase plan to increase capacity and add more seats by National Express train operator c2c, as a result of the first new trains added to the fleet since 2003.
This weekend the first of 24 new carriages arrived at c2c’s East Ham depot, and they will now undergo a programme of live testing and driver training before they enter passenger service next month. This will be the first of four rounds of capacity enhancements, culminating in a new timetable in January that has been designed in consultation with local passenger groups.
The extra trains and new timetable will address the differing top priorities for passengers in different areas:
– Faster journey times between stations in Southend and London, with four faster trains created each morning and each evening
– Longer trains between stations in Thurrock and London, with at least three trains doubled in length to 8-carriages in each peak
– More seats available at stations in mid-Essex, with trains starting from Laindon retimed to run at the busiest times and lengthened to 8-carriages, and extra carriages for passengers at Basildon and Benfleet
c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said: “We are taking action to address the number one issue passengers have told us about in each different part of the c2c route. We want to ensure that some benefits are felt everywhere, so we have been working with the local user groups to identify the top issues for passengers in their area.
“These changes are only possible thanks to the 24 new carriages that we secured earlier this year, and next month our customers should start to feel the benefits of these trains.”
The 24 brand-new British-built carriages, which have been constructed by Bombardier at their factory in Derby, were ordered by c2c in April. The carriages are arriving in three phases, and each train will undergo a period of live testing before entering passenger service. There will be three waves of extra seats for c2c passengers before Christmas, and the fourth and final phase of improvements will be the new peak-time timetable introduced on Monday 9 January.
c2c has today published a video outlining the main changes for passengers and including new footage of the trains being construction, which is available here: www.c2c-online.co.uk/travelling-with-us/timetables-and-trains/new-2016-carriages/.