Newest Review: ... air conditioning, CCTV, passenger information screens and comfortable seats. Stations have been repainted and modernised. Reliabity ha... more
C2C- Much Improvement Needed
Member Name: GLT1
Date: 16/12/01, updated on 19/03/02 (725 review reads)
Advantages: New trains are relatively clean and comfortable
Disadvantages: Poor standard of customer service/care, Numerous Cancellations, Old trains are in a disgusting state
I have been using C2C for just over a year now and I have to say that I am not at all impressed with their service.
It takes me about 40-45 minutes to get from my station to Fenchurch Street, butit seems that most of the time it takes longer than that as there are rgular delays, cancellations and all sorts of industrial action going on where this company is concerned.
At the start of the year, I must admit, I was fairly happy with the service. Delays out of Fenchurch Street didn't seem to be too bad and there seemed to be only a small amount of cancellations. The problem is that this only lasted for about the first month of the year, and everything has just gone downhill from there.
I remember one time, coming home from work, the train stopped between each station for about 10-15 minutes, and by the time I got home I was over an hour late.
This gradually happened more and more often (although I have to admit, not for as long as in that instance), and to co-incide with that my trains of a morning were coming in on time with less frequency, meaning that I was late for work on numerous occasions.
Another problem that was creeping in was the regular cancellation of trains that had apparently 'broken down' despite the fact that many of those in question are supposedly state-of-the-art machines.
This cancellation led to ridculously over-crowded trains (sometimes with over three trains' worth of passengers on them, depending on the number of successive cancellations) that are both short of air (there is pumped-in air and air conditioning on the 'new' C2C trains, but no windows that can be opened) and incredibly hard to move in. Most people in this situation leave the train feeling extremely unwell, but that seems to be of no concern to the staff at C2C, who when you inform them of this, simply remind you that their train 'did get you home'.
Oh well, that's a poor quality of s
ervice and unfriendly staff that I've covered so far, but the service level deteriorated once again around the end of June/beginning of July, when C2C suffered the effects of industrail action over their reluctance to place a guard on their 'new' trains and preferring a driver-only scheme.
They argued that this was what most rail companies were doing and that it was an approved measure. However the fact was that at that time it wasn't approved, and that all of the other rail companies had reached an agreement with the union and allowed guards on their train, and so they were the only company to face this industrial action (which was basically a number of strikes and a continued refusal to work overtime). This, to my mind simply spelt out a wish to save money by no longer having the guards, but at the same time, it meant an extremely reduced service on trains to and from Fenchurch Street (for me, even at peak time this meant that there were only two trains to and from my station and that travelling out of peak hours was even worse- even then, some of those trains were still cancelled, and I have on a couple of occasions waited at Fenchurch Street for an hour or so when trying to get home of an evening).
This action went on for a couple of months, and then, at the start of October, there were some letters on the seats of the trains, and at the station itself from C2C, telling passengers that although industrial action had eased off a little, they are not yet running a normal time-table as they feel they could be hit by unexpected industrial action that could damage the service more (is that possible, I wonder). So they were basically reducing the number of trains, not to save money on paying overtime, but for the love of their passengers. How caring.
Finally on October 21st, peak-time train services began running normally again (and to be fair to C2C, the majority of those that I have needed to catch have been on time), howe
ver those wishing to get into work out of peak-time still have only one train an hour to catch, and even then, they have to change to a connectinmg train at Upminster (at least you do if you're on the Tilbury-line, as I am). I have had to do this on occassion, and while the train gets you to Upminster on time, it's not been unknown for the connecting train to be canceled, meaning that you have to wait another hour to get the next one which takes you to London (or the other way if you're heading home).
After going-on about the poor service for a while now, I would also like to make a point about the trains themselves.
C2C runs two different types of train. They run their 'new' trains, with electronic doors, and displays telling you the next station, and on the whole, apart from the window problem I mentioned earlier, they are very nice. They are clean, there is a fair amount of space (so if the trains actually run on time you could be quite comfortable), and the toilets are mostly clean and in working order from my experience.
However, because C2C are still experiencing problems with these 'new' trains, customers still regularly have to travel on trains with slam-doors that are over 15 years old (at least), with seats that are covered in grafitti, and often slashed open, making the journey to work unpleasant and uncomfortable.
I also find that the toilets on these trains, are for the most part either all 'out-of-order' or in a sickeningly dirty state, making them virtually impossible to use anyway. This, I feel is unacceptable and must be remedied in the near future if they persist in using these trains.
Another problem with my C2C station (Tilbury Town) is a lack of access for the disabled and elderly. While there are acceptable facilities that let you onto the platform, and a disabled toilet on the station, there is no access at all for any disabled person wishing to cross to the oppos
ite platform which takes you towards London. I can only imagine how hard it is for any diabled person wising to get across to the opposite platform, as the only access routes to it are a high walkway that goes over the top of the track and involves climbing a total of 30+ steps, or alternatively, you could make your way around the track, which means travelling approximately half a mile to get there. I find it ridiculous that C2C can spend money on fitting computerised screens and modernised signs in the station, but can't invest in disabled access to the opposite platform.
So, overall, I am none too impressed with C2C. Although their peak-time trains now seem to be running fine, with little disruption, it remains to be seen how long for, and to travel on their trains is often still an unpleasant experience, particularly out of peak time. This is unacceptable really, especially when it's considered that the prices are very high.
However, their new trains seak to remedy this, and maybe, just maybe, that positive can be the foundation that can springboard them to improvement in the coming year. I am sure that I'm not the only commuter that feels this way.
Since I first drafted this opinion a few months ago all of the industrial action that caused delays to both peak and off-peak services has ended, and the trains seem to be running much more on time and much more reliably.
In fact in the many journeys I have made by C2C rail this year, I have suffered only two very slight delays, and as-of-yet have not been the victim of many cancellations. I also know of many people who feel the same way about the actual running of the trains, so for that, I will give C2C another star in my overall rating.
However, that I am afraid is all I am going to give it.
The standards of the toilets on the relatively clean new trains has began to deteriorate to the low and unhygenic standard that I mentioned e
arlier in this opinion, however if you get to witness this you would be one of the few fortunate one that are able to find a train with a toilet that is actually operational.
I have travelled back and forward to London a total of ten times in the past two weeks, and only on three of those journeys, was a toilet actually operational, the rest of the time it was 'out of order'.
'Why don't you go to the toilet at the station?' I hear you say, and that brings me nicely onto my next point.
Whilst the larger train stations on my route, such as Upminster and Fenchurch Street have toilet facilities that cater for more than one person, many of the other stations have only one toilet (and often that is designated for disabled use only, despite the fact that at my two nearest stations, the disabled toilet is on the side of the track which disabled people find it difficult to get access to).
Now, despite the fact that these toilets are intended as being only for disabled use, most C2C stations have the policy of leaving them free for all to use, but have in place a policy whereby you have to ask the customer service assistant for a key to open them as they are left permanently locked.
This is a policy which I happen to agree with, as it makes vandalising the toilets more difficult and allows the staff at the station to identify those responsible and so protects against the station toilets degenerating into the filthy mess that the on-train toilets have become.
However, what I do not agree with is when staff at the station, for no good reason, other than apparently being too lazy to walk over to the cupboard containing the key (a mere two steps from their 'service window'), refuse to hand it over insisting that they don't have it (two staff in particular at my local station seem to do this regularly, and on the two occasions it has happened to me, I have been present at the station, when somebo
dy else has already used the toilet and handed the key back to them) and that you should use the on-train toilets, despite the fact that there are more than a couple of reasons that you can't do this.
In my eyes, this is an extremely lacklustre form of customer service, and seems to me a way of ensuring that C2C and their staff make your journey as uncomfortable as possible.
Other than that major deterioration, everything else with C2C is much the same, in other words- in need of much improvement.
Two-stars only, I'm afraid.
More reviews in the field of Transport National
- hell on earth
- It is a good job Geoffrey is a small giraffe!
- I'd rather walk!
- May take a while but at least you'll arrive!
- Too much ventilation for my liking!
- East Midlands Trains
- Sorry we came we didn't use it.. ( the tram )
- Britain's Best Kept Secret?
- The worst train company in the South
- A new station for New Street