Thurrock Council give C2C "March deadline" over new timetable

THE rail company that covers Thurrock – c2c – has promised to talk to councillors again in March after appearing before them on Wednesday (20 January) evening.

Chris Atkinson, from c2c was at the meeting of Thurrock Council’s Planning, Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee after passenger complaints over the company’s changed timetable led to a request for them to be there.

He told the committee the changes had first been brought in on 13 December and had been changed three times since in an effort to iron out the problems caused.

And he said the company was carrying out detailed investigations on passenger numbers, whether – and where – seating was available or not.

He told members this was the first change in timetables for ten years and the aim was to make extra capacity available where there was demand.

But he also admitted the company had been “taken by surprise” by a large increase in passenger demand in the past year – and since the new timetable was introduced – and that it was working to improve the situation.

Members heard c2c was still being flexible about making further small changes to the times of some trains and it was looking to bring in some extra carriages to increase the length of some trains.

The number of peak time trains using the Chafford Hundred and Ockendon line had been increased as had the number starting at Grays. However, with a limited amount of rolling stock using more trains or carriages in one place or time meant reducing them elsewhere, at least until new stock could be found.

Cllr Brian Little, chair of the committee, said afterwards: “Members questioned c2c carefully and put forward the frustrations passengers have been facing over the past month or so.

“I understand that making changes to a long-standing timetable is likely to cause problems and, to be fair, the company seem to be doing what they can to improve things.

“However, it is clear the situation has not been sorted out yet and we have asked that c2c come back to our March meeting to give us an update. This gives them six weeks to obtain more carriages, increase train sizes to the optimum and significantly improve performance.

“We want to see this fixed as soon as possible.”

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