On 9th November 2014, c2c commenced a new 15-year franchise, at that time it was owned by National Express but in February 2017 it was sold to Italian train operator Trenitalia
Built and operated by the London Tilbury & Southend Railway in the 1850s, the current c2c rail service has operated under a number of different names and ownership during its 160-year lifespan.
21st Century service
c2c currently serves 26 stations on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway line from London Fenchurch Street to the northern Thames Gateway area of southern Essex including Grays, Leigh-on-Sea and Southend-on-Sea. The main route from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness is 63 kilometres with a fastest journey time of 58 minutes.
As c2c is mainly a London commuter railway and the typical journey is between forty and eighty minutes, it does not offer First Class seating. Its Class 357s have standard high-density ‘3 + 2’ seating to meet high demand at peak times, however 17 trains were converted into a metro style with ‘two and two’ seating and grab handles. London Underground’s District line connects with c2c indirectly at Tower Hill (for Fenchurch Street) and directly at West Ham, Barking and Upminster.
Tickets are fully interchangeable between the two operators. There are also interchanges at Limehouse and West Ham with Docklands Light Railway and at Barking and Upminster with London Overground.
c2c holds both UK records for the punctuality of its train service: for annual punctuality, at 97.5 per cent; and for punctuality over a four-week period, at 98.8 per cent (set in August 2010).
c2c has also led the rail industry in being the first company to introduce customer friendly new products such as Automatic Delay Repay for customers whose journeys are delayed, Flexi-Season tickets for part-time workers, and Personal Punctuality Reports which allow customers to track exactly how punctual the trains that they were on have been.
During 2016 the number of c2c passenger journeys rose by eight per cent, boosted especially by the opening of the DLR station at West Ham in 2011 and the rise of Canary Wharf as a financial centre.
A new app called c2c Live 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.
Other developments include 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.
Late in 2016 c2c added 24 new carriages to its fleet and on 9th January 2017 it changed the timetable again (in cooperation with local passenger groups) to further increase capacity on the route. Nine new four-car trains will be introduced by 2019, followed by four more by 2022 and four more by 2024. c2c’s fleet is maintained at East Ham Depot, although there is also a depot at Shoeburyness.
On 1st April 2017, c2c introduced free onboard WiFi and an entertainment service called Vista, partnering with Now TV to provide free television shows available to stream for c2c passengers.