From the seaside line, to the 'Misery Line', to being one of the best train services in the UK – the London, Tilbury & Southend railway has changed considerably over the years.
The current c2c rail service has operated under a number of different names and ownership since the line was first built in the 1850s. The railway was originally built and ran by the London Tilbury & Southend Railway. In 1912 the line was taken over by Midland Trains. The local service was nationalised in 1948 and became part of British Rail, which continued until the re-privatisation of the railways in 1996.
The end of the 'Misery Line'
In 1996 a 15-year franchise was awarded to a company called Prism Rail, who operated under the brand name LTS Rail. The service’s poor punctuality record in the 1990s, along with its old-fashioned slam-door trains, earned the nickname of “The Misery Line”.
In 2000, Prism Rail was bought by new owners National Express Group. An entire fleet of new trains were ordered, and delivered between 2000 and 2003. After a difficult initial introduction, the trains soon proved to be reliable and popular. The new fleet supported a dramatic improvement in punctuality and customer satisfaction.
In 2003 a new brand name for the train service was also introduced: c2c.
In November 2014 the government awarded a new 15-year franchise for operating c2c to National Express Group. In February 2017 c2c was acquired from National Express by Italian rail company Trenitalia who are one of Europe’s leading train operators and the rail passenger arm of FS Italiane Group.
Winning awards and breaking records
We are proud to be one of the most successful train operators in the UK. c2c holds both UK records for the punctuality of our train service: for annual punctuality, at 97.5 per cent; and for punctuality over a four-week period, at 98.8 per cent (set in August 2010).
In recent years c2c has also been named the UK’s best rail operator at the National Rail Awards and the National Transport Awards, and in passenger satisfaction surveys by both Transport Focus and Which? Magazine.
c2c has also led the rail industry in being the first company to introduce customer-friendly new products such as Automatic Delay Repay for customers whose journeys are delayed, Flexi-Season tickets for part-time workers, and Personal Punctuality Reports which allow customers to track exactly how punctual the trains that they were on have been.