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c2c launches redesigned trains and updated timetable

National Express operator c2c has today (28 July) debuted newly redesigned and refurbished trains for its morning services as part of a £12m upgrade programme.

The redesigned trains, which will be used on the shortest peak-time journeys, provide extra space that can be used for an additional 150 standing passengers.

These new-look trains, pictured above, will be rolled out over the next six months and will eventually comprise 20% of c2c’s Class 357 fleet. The first one – unit 357323 but formerly unit 357223 before layout changes –ran at 7.41am today from Pitsea to Fenchurch Street via Rainham.

The redesigned carriages have replaced the old 3+2 seating layout with 2+2. RTM has reported previously on 3+2 seating as being "strongly disliked" by passengers, and it comes up as a "spontaneous negative" in market research and focus groups. Anthony Smith of Transport Focus has said that only a few 3+2 interiors seem to work for passengers, including London Midland's Class 350s. 

Refurbishment of c2c's Class 357s

The other 80% of the c2c fleet is undergoing a less extensive refurbishment, to offer passengers a “brighter, cleaner and more comfortable journey”. The first refreshed carriages, making up unit 357202, were also launched in today’s morning trips.

Refurbished c2c train Refurbished trains to make up 80% of the fleet, a change from the former green and blue carriages.

c2c frequently manages among the best punctuality figures in the industry, aided by its relatively self-contained network and the fact that its fleet is standardised, made up solely of Bombardier-build Class 357 Electrostars, split into two sub-fleets that are “more or less identical”.

c2c is soon to procure 17 new trains as part of its new franchise from 2019.

Managing director at c2c, Julian Drury, recently interviewed by RTM, is encouraging passengers to travel on the refreshed carriages and pass on their feedback.

He said: “We know our trains are getting busier, so our new timetable which starts in December will help more people making the longest journeys to get a seat. This is complemented by the new train design we’ve unveiled today for our shorter-distance peak trains, which provide more space and will help more passengers making short trips to get on-board. We’d really like feedback on this new look, so we want passengers to try the new train and tell us what they think.

“These improvements to capacity are part of our three-stage programme to transform the c2c service, combined with the new discounted tickets and smartcards we launched last year and the automatic compensation scheme for delayed passengers that will begin early next year.”

The operator has also published the latest passenger projections for its new upcoming timetable set to take effect in December. It will provide 1,400 extra seats and room for over 3,000 extra passengers in each morning peak as well as improve connections for commuters who travel into London.

Equivalent figures also show that the new timetable will provide 25% more stops with seats available for passengers than today and a reduction in the amount of full trains.

These changes will particularly benefit passengers at Basildon, Benfleet, Chafford Hundred and Ockendon stations.


Charles Peters   28/07/2015 at 12:16

OMG - 3x2 seating

Nonsuchmike   28/07/2015 at 15:06

Well done, c2c. Let's give credit where it is due. These refurbished trains look pleasing to the eye and the revamped ones with seating 2 X 2 does give extra standing room for shorter trips and more room for bulky luggage I note. Where standing passengers AND luggage are competing for space there could be a problem, especially on the 2 X 3 seating arrangement. Our inference from the article indicates implementation of the new timetable should give more trains per hour at peak times at least and possibly throughout most times of the day and weekends, which is a double hurrah for Essex commuters, whose long forbearance on these sardine-ly busy routes has been borne with fortitude. Other TOCs, especially around London, in the Midlands and the North as well as central Scotland, please mark, learn and inwardly digest.

Chris @ Chesterfield   28/07/2015 at 20:30

Great to see industry leaders at last demonstrating that that 'high density' rolling stock means 2 + 2 seating, not 3 + 2 as is often imagined. On the other hand, why spend all this money on interior improvements and overlook to put in the seating spacers. All you get through omitting them is customer recognition - in the most direct possible way - that their comfort is given low importance.

Andrew Gwilt   28/07/2015 at 22:31

c2c do have the best trains and good service and with their Class 357's Electrostars to be refurbished would make them better than Abellio Greater Anglia. Plus I live in Benfleet and I prefer using c2c than Abellio Greater Anglia.

Steve From Laindon   29/07/2015 at 09:01

So let me get this straight. You are cutting the very busy and popular starter trains from Laindon, which by the way is a big reason why people live there in the first place and now removing seats so even more people can be squashed into the trains. All this solely so we can accommodate fair dodgers and non C2C (Oyster customers) who cant be bothered to get a tube they paid for between Barking and West Ham (This being a 10 minute Tube journey) We all love giving you guys £3,000 a year plus to stand for in excess 30 plus minutes each way. Makes a wonderful start and ending to my day.

Simon Form Grays   10/08/2015 at 12:34

I went on one of these 2+2 carriages on a trip from Fenchurch Street to Southend on Thursday evening - hardly a short commute as stated in the article. Lets get this straight folks - C2C are removing 14 seats (or thereabouts) from each carriage so on an eight carriage train that's 112 people that will now have to stand up which could have sat. I can't see that as an improvement - unless they are thinking of introducing a standing only ticket or reduce the price by the same percentage of seats they are taking out. Design wise the strap handles to hold on are opposite each other and not offset so people will be fighting for the same space - there's no bins at all on the coach that I could see and the area where you could at least lean against has gone. There are no plugs for your laptop, or whatever - I went on a megabus the other day and even they had these. I had wondered what David Blunkett had done once retired I know now, he's been designing coaches for C2C.

Stephen   20/08/2015 at 16:59

I must say, I totally agree with Simon and Steve's comments. My wife and I both commute from Westcliff to Fenchurch St. we are fortunate to get seats in the morning or course, but its a different story in the evening. Part of the problem here is that you are running some eight car trains at peak time when it's obvious to everybody but C2C that they should all be twelve car trains. And yes, those lazy blighters ( with their tube tickets)who literally push their way on at West Ham rather than get the tube for the 10-minute journey. Again, this could be resolved by stagering the stops peak time trains stop at. Peak time trains that stop at Limehouse are full, yet the train still stop at West Ham. This is just Crazy. why not let trains that stop at Limehouse continue on to Barking before stopping, and let other trains pass Limehouse then stop at West Ham? Finally, how can C2C say they can carry more passenger in comfort by removing seats. I asl o noticed when on one of the new stock toda, that the seats are smaller too!

Mark@Grays   10/09/2015 at 15:14

Hmmm... "It will provide 1,400 extra seats and room for over 3,000 extra passengers in each morning peak " ... 3000 passengers minus 1400 seats, means 1600 people having to stand. Its 40 minutes from Grays to Fenchurch St. I don't call that a short journey and its only half the route. You don't solve capactiy issues by removing seats to cram more people in. Remove all 4 coach sets and run 8 coaches instead. Extend 8 coach sets to 12. Its called customer service.

Pt - Leigh On Sea   18/09/2015 at 17:47

I live 2 mins from Benfleet station - and for the last 10 years - I've driven my car (don't get me started on £6 per day parking) to Leigh on sea to get a seat! This morning one of these babies showed up as the 7:55 (stopper to Fenchurch .. y'know - the empty ones!). No seats!! I stood to Fenchurch, my back is now screaming - and over the weekend i guess I have to research how to park near Chalkwell or Westcliff! Not good enough C2C... I get the logic, but your definition of short journeys is weird - perhaps you should state what your definition actually is? Then at least we'll know if you're crazy .. or if you just think we are!

Stuart@Benfleet   01/10/2015 at 08:39

I commute from Benfleet every day to Fenchurch Street and over the last couple of years I have had to change my start time earlier and earlier to get a seat on the train. It seems gone are the days where you can let the fast train go and get the next slow train to guarantee a seat. Benfleet Station is always very busy and if you have trains starting at Shoeburyness and stopping at all station prior to Benfleet there are already people standing when the train pulls in to Benfleet. We have seen inflation plus rises in fares year after year but this has not reflected in an increase in rolling stock as C2C say they do not controller the amount of rolling stock just the management of it. I will give credit where it is due that the days of the slam door trains and the “Misery line” and constant cancellation and delays are behind us it seems, but if fares are going to continue to increase the amount of rolling stock I.E 12 coaches instead of 8 at the busier times needs to be implemented as higher fares delivering a standing room only does not reflect an improving service. As we are in the position of overcrowding that means more fare paying customers using the service and paying more for that service year on year, so why are we getting less seats not more? The only way you improve the service is more rolling stock delivering a greater number of seats the frequency of the trains is sufficient just the amount of seating capacity is not. The only fair way to all passengers if you cannot do this is to create a standing ticket only at a reduced rate as at present you having people paying the same price getting on at the same stations for a reduced service and I am sorry that cannot be right.

Clive From Upminster   17/11/2015 at 17:12

With the removal of the third seat from the 3+2 configuration this only increases the standing capacity that is is fully used in the rush hours. This means that during the day when the trains are less crowded there will be more standing passengers due to the reduced number of seats. The real answer to this is to remove the third seat and then increase the the number of cars in the unit from four to five. Get rid of the 12 car formation and make all trains either 5 or 10 car formations.

Mr Angry   26/11/2015 at 21:09

I have travelled since th good old bad old days of British Rail and for so many years the same 2 things are needed more trains/longer trains and a fare structure that is Oyster throughout, the money wasted on the c2c branded smart card would have been better spent on longer trains and the Oystercard extension throughout.

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