Reasons behind the New Carriages and May Timetable

What are the specifications of the new carriages?

To get the new carriages in at speed, we had to lease carriages already being built – so we don’t get to make all spec decisions. Saying that though the British manufacturer, Bombardier, are being really helpful and working with us to ensure that they meet the needs of our passengers.

The new carriages will add extra seats at peak times, and are specifically designed for comfort over long distances. A full outline of the specifications is:

  • The brand-new trains are the latest generation of our existing fleet.
  • There are 225 seats in each 4-carriage train, meaning the six trains provide 1,350 extra seats during the morning and evening peak, and 13,500 extra peak seats a week.
  • Designed specifically for longer-distance journeys, the seats are around 10% wider than usual.
  • Each seat also comes with arm rests and personal reading lights.
  • There are two toilets and two dedicated wheelchair areas on board each 4-carriage train.
  • There's air-conditioning and a number of plug sockets in each carriage.
  • Each 4-car train is inter-connected, so customers can walk through all the carriages if there are no free seats in their section.
  • Spacious luggage areas.

How many seats will the new carriages have?

There are 225 seats in each 4-carriage train, meaning the six trains provide 1,350 extra seats in each peak, and 13,500 extra peak seats a week. In addition to this the seats are specifically designed for longer journeys and so are 10% wider than usual. 

What difference will the new carriages make?

These extra carriages will allow us to provide at least 50% more capacity on many of the busiest trains in the morning and evening peak. As well as making these trains less crowded, they will provide room for growth from new customers and other existing passengers who want to switch to these trains.

To relieve crowding in the short term we will also be making amendments to the timetable in May, and have already started the process for new trains that will be arriving from 2019.

Why do we have to wait until autumn for more carriages?

  • We have heard loud and clear from the passengers who are on these busiest trains, which is why we have been working tirelessly with the Department for Transport to find a solution.
  • The new carriages are brand-new trains that are currently being built, so we are bringing them into service as soon as they come off the production lines.
  • The process for ordering new trains, building them and bringing them into service usually takes years, but we have been able to reduce this to just a few months.
  • To help in the short term we made amendments to the timetable in May to solve the overcrowding on some of the busiest services.

Why do the services that stop at Barking keep changing?

  • We know that Barking is one of the busiest stations on c2c. It has been used by thousands of c2c passengers for many years to reach central London, and demand is growing fast locally.
  • Like everyone else, these passengers have paid for their journeys and it is our duty to get them to where they want to go.
  • We also know that the corridor between Barking and West Ham is the busiest section of the route, so this is where trains become most crowded.
  • We try to be fair to all our passengers, and so we have to balance the needs of those who use Barking and those travelling from elsewhere.
  • Removing five additional stops in each of the morning and evening peaks should mean that on average 150 fewer people board each of these services. We have targeted these changes at the most crowded services, where they will make a real difference.
  • However, if we withdraw more services from Barking then there would be insufficient trains for local c2c passengers travelling to and from one of our busiest stations.
  • This is why we have worked so hard with the Department for Transport to secure the 24 additional carriages which will come into service later this year, and provide the extra capacity that is needed.

Why is a stop removed from Benfleet when it is such a busy station?

  • The 07.08 service from Shoeburyness is the most-crowded train of the day so we need to take action now before the 24 new carriages arrive at the end of the year. By removing the stop at Benfleet, we free up around 100 seats for passengers from stations further west like Basildon and Laindon at one of the busiest times of the day.
  • Benfleet passengers have alternative options on the previous and next trains, both of which start from Leigh.

Why not just revert to the old timetable?

  • Our new timetable has provided more seats and more room for passengers at peak times overall. The issue has been that the growth in people who want to travel with c2c has been even faster. Most of these extra passengers are travelling from stations in Essex, and it is our duty to get them to where they want to go.
  • This means that going back is not an option. Even before the unprecedented growth in passengers, the old timetable was not working for many people. Five years ago, 66% of passengers were satisfied with seat availability and standing space, but in the most recent survey it was only 57%.
  • The only solution is to provide extra carriages on top of the benefits of the new timetable. This is why our deal with the Department for Transport secures 24 additional carriages before the end of the year, and we have also begun our long-term plans for extra trains to meet the growing local demand.

What are you doing about journey times?

  • We are currently focused on improving overcrowded trains because that is the number one issue that customers have raised with us.
  • But we are not being complacent – we are working with Network Rail to explore options to increase the speed limit on key sections of the c2c route to help shorten journey times.

Why are you leasing not buying carriages?

This is how the industry works. Leasing allows us to react more quickly to an increase in passenger numbers. This keeps the cost of operations, and as a result the cost to fare payers, as low as possible.

How does the announcement affect services at my station?

  • The new carriages will bring clear benefits across our whole route. We will be finalising a new timetable in December when the last of the new carriages arrive.
  • You can read full details of the changes to May’s timetable here.