c2c passengers demand change as new timetable creates rush hour ‘chaos’
07:00 04 March 2016
Pressure is being put on c2c bosses to end months of misery for commuters who complain of being left stranded on platforms and in “dangerously” overcrowded carriages.
Arriving at Upminster station, I am greeted with a pleasant good morning and told to have a lovely day by a joyous staff member.
But my attention is quickly fixed on the platform as I hear a screeching train come to a halt.
Groups of passengers strategically position themselves along the platform eagerly waiting for doors to open and despite frantic attempts, I soon realise this train would be leaving without me.
After elbowing my way through the crowd, I manage to squeeze onto the next train.
Stepping on I begin to hear the disgruntled moans and groans of an already packed train. As the doors close and my back is pressed firmly against the doors, I start to wonder how I would feel doing this every morning.
Fortunately for me, the journey was a quick one and I endure a brief seven minutes standing to Barking before another wave of passengers quickly swallow up the space I leave behind.
People travelling from Havering into central London take to social media on a daily basis to describe the early morning “chaos” that is the norm – particularly since the introduction of a new timetable for 2016.
Now, a Havering Council cabinet member is calling for a public meeting with c2c representatives to bring an end to the months of travel disruption.
Speaking to the Recorder, Cllr Clarence Barrett said: “On behalf of the local community, I would appreciate the opportunity to ask questions to someone from c2c about the new timetable and how new carriages would meet the demand.
“Train fares are really expensive and people are paying a lot of money to be crammed into carriages every day.
“The general sense from users is that by the time trains reach Upminster, you can barely get on and coming back is not much better.
“I would like to think a meeting with a c2c official would help provide a solution and make a big difference to people who use the service.”
A new c2c timetable issued in December 2015 claimed to be helping an extra 3,000 people get on board during peak times.
However, a quick flick through social media every morning and it is clear to see the frustrations of many passengers.
To see what the c2c service is like, I joined the early morning rush in Upminster and Rainham and spoke to users.
Despite the number of peak-time services at Upminster increasing from 25 to 35 services, many objections revolve around the reduction in carriages.
Tim Parks, 42, of Howard Road, Upminster, said: “If we are speaking purely in terms of common sense then surely removing carriages from an extremely busy line is going to cause some of the chaos we see every morning.”
Lucy Wells, 30, from Upminster, said: “I’ve just come to expect that I will probably miss the first train that arrives and get in position for the next.
“If they could ease the overcrowding on these trains then it would be a good service.”
Yusef Almedi, 24, from Rainham, said: “Usually you can get on fine here and I just accept that I might not get a seat.
“I think c2c need to have a rethink as we deserve better for what we are paying.”
The revised timetable, based on customers’ feedback, was intended to improve the service while metro style carriages were intended to increase capacity.
The changes were introduced after a c2c report recorded a 15 per cent increase in the number of people travelling in the past five years.
A spokesman has confirmed discussions are ongoing for extra carriages to be provided.
He said: “We have seen significant growth across the entire c2c route in the last few months, with many more passengers travelling from stations in Essex than before.
“Overall the old timetable provided fewer peak time services and less seats, so would not provide extra capacity to meet this growth.”