The only way to get to Essex?

23 October 2014

A slick presentation from c2c confirmed early news. The new ‘Essex Thameside’ franchise which kicks off on the 9 November will continue to be run by National Express under the c2c brand.

There is a lot of positive news in there about what is to come for passengers:

  • new and refurbished trains
  • new timetable
  • new destinations
  • more punctual trains
  • ground-breaking automatic compensation for delays over two minutes for registered users
  • smartcards
  • free Wi-Fi on trains and at stations
  • stations staffed all day
  • station investment
  • a right price guarantee
  • more transport police on the beat and more.

Passenger nirvana? There is certainly much to welcome.

This franchise replacement also represents the first ‘nose to tail’ case study of our involvement in the new franchise replacement process:

  • passenger input before the specification is set out
  • dialogue with the franchise bidders
  • Passenger Focus advising the Department of Transport (DfT) on the quality aspects of bids
  • National Rail Passenger Survey targets included in the franchise
  • finally, a clear concise ‘customer report’ of what has been bought on behalf of and promised to passengers – we are just doing research on this now to see how it meets passenger needs and what they would like to see in future editions.

So, all the inputs look good. However, as with any contract the proof of success will be years in coming to light but this looks a promising start. With no support from government if the figures turn out different the train company is fully exposed and incentivised to get more, happy passengers on board.

Niggles? Well, passenger numbers will rise and the new capacity will, one suspects, fill up quickly. The proposed timetable recast, yet to be consulted on, with all trains stopping at Barking, West Ham and Limehouse, has simplicity, but might slow down longer-distance trains. Very time sensitive City-orientated commuters won’t like it. But this really is no longer the ‘misery line’ of old.

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