MAJOR BENEFITS FOR RAIL PASSENGERS AS c2c MARKS START OF NEW FRANCHISE
Local rail passengers can now benefit from free wifi, new discounted fares and easy new ways to buy tickets as c2c celebrates the official start of its new 15-year franchise.
The c2c rail service has been operated by National Express since 2000, and will now continue to be until 2029. c2c has launched a series of new improvements for passengers to mark the start of the new franchise, which will both improve the passenger experience from today, and will be extended to provide more major benefits in the future.
Rail Minister Claire Perry visited Basildon station this morning to see the new improvements that passengers can now take advantage of, including:
- Free wifi at stations for all c2c passengers starting today, delivered by major internet provider Level 3. In future c2c will extend the wifi service to operate on board trains too, giving c2c passengers the fastest and most reliable wifi in the UK rail network with download speeds of up to 50mb/s
Up to 40% discount on off-peak travel when passengers buy their tickets online in advance. In future c2c will also introduce flexible season tickets, which will reward commuters when they choose to travel off-peak
- A new app called “c2c Live” which provides a one-stop-shop for c2c passengers with everything from personalised journey information to buying tickets, and even paying for car parking. Developed with IBM, this is the first app made by a UK rail company to include nationwide door-to-door public transport journey planning, enabling users to plan a route for any journey anywhere in the UK. In future, customers will also be able to use their c2c Live app to register for automatic refunds, which will be paid out whenever they are delayed for as little as two minutes
- The new c2c Smart card which allows c2c season ticket holders to switch from paper tickets to an Oyster-style tap-and-go smartcard ticket they can use anywhere on the c2c route. In future, c2c Smart will be extended to cover day travel as well as season tickets, and passengers will be able to use their c2c Smart card on any rail journey in London and the South East
- A new way to pay for travel, with c2c and Barclaycard launching a pilot of the contactless c2c bPay band which allows passengers to pay for their travel without buying a separate ticket. bPay is a new payment wristband that is linked to any Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card to make contactless payments of £20 and under. Passengers from Grays, Upminster and Barking will be able to apply for their bPay band from today, and use it to pay for their travel into central London on c2c, plus any onward journey on the Tube or London buses, as well as their morning coffee or lunchtime sandwich. In future, passengers will be able to travel using the c2c bPay band and all forms of contactless payment across the entire c2c route.
To celebrate the first commuter day of the new franchise, c2c gave away 25,000 free off-peak return tickets for two, to commuters at key stations during Monday’s morning peak.
Following her visit to Basildon, Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “Passengers deserve the best from our railways, and they will see real 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.
“We are also investing record amounts in improving and maintaining the national network, with more than £38bn being spent over the next five years as part of our long-term economic plan to build a world-class railway.”
c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said: “Today we are launching the biggest single package of improvements local rail passengers have ever seen. Our focus in this new franchise is to improve the experience for passengers whenever they are using c2c. We're aiming to excel in this area, and build our reputation as a high-quality service as well as a punctual and reliable train operator.
“This is also a chance to say thank you to our passengers for all their support over the last decade, and we're giving away free tickets today as part of that. I hope our passengers will be as excited as we are by all the new improvements we’re going to introduce over the next few years.”
Other benefits to the new 15-year franchise agreed between National Express and the Department for Transport, which will also be introduced in coming years, include:
- New trains with 68 extra carriages from 2019, and a significant upgrade for the existing fleet
- £33 million investment in stations
- A commitment to staff every station from the first train until the last service
- A new timetable providing extra services and better connections
- A new Passenger Charter which improves the consumer rights of passengers
c2c has also produced two new videos to mark the start of the new franchise. The first sets out a summary of the passenger benefits that will be delivered in the new franchise, and is available at: http://www.yourc2cupdate.uk/new-15yr-franchise/. The second provides an overview to customers on how to use the new c2c Live app and is available at:http://www.yourc2cupdate.uk/c2c-live-app/.