A presentation/verbal update will be provided at the meeting.
A presentation was provided by Steve Hooker, National Rail Representative and Chris Atkinson, c2c Representative. The presentation outlined the following:
· Signalling issues and power systems – had been reliable over the last 25 years but now required replacing to ensure faster service and to allow for more capacity. This would help to reduce the signal power failures that often occurred on c2c.
· Track – hot weather caused rail tracks to contract which resulted in track distortion. This caused the speed restrictions placed on trains.
· External events – the number of trespassing incidences had increased and Network Rail was working to secure these trespass points.
· c2c communicated updates through various channels and Twitter was the most effective.
· Issues with the sun rising on one side of the track resulted in line side issues in which the driver would then have to leave the train to walk down the platform to perform their safety checks.
· Service decisions from c2c were unpopular but these were for the safety of passengers or to ensure an efficient service following delays e.g. crowd control at Fenchurch Street station; or reserving carriages for Limehouse or West Ham.
Thanking the representatives for the presentation, Councillor Pothecary said that information provided from c2c via the communication channels were sometimes inconsistent. On Chris Atkinson’s comments regarding the effectiveness of the Twitter feed, Councillor Pothecary disagreed and thought there needed to be better suggestions and advice given. She went on to state that information regarding c2c delays were not fed through Transport for London (TfL) channels and it would be useful for TfL and c2c to communicate with each other in this area. Councillor Pothecary requested further information regarding the line side issues.
In response, Chris Atkinson said the sun rising on one side had often been an issue and it would affect one station on one day and on the next, it would affect another station instead. Money was being invested into this issue to resolve it. Councillor Pothecary thought that the issue needed to be better communicated and more information than ‘the sun is shining’.
Continuing on, Councillor Pothecary said there were issues on other lines, in particular, the loop lines which was the Ockendon line and the Rainham line. There was a general perception that these lines were not as well looked after as the ‘top’ line (Fenchurch Street to Upminster). Purfleet Station had been known to have 4 train carriages during peak hours whereas top line stations would have up to 12 carriages. Councillor Pothecary invited the representatives to comment on the perception mentioned.
Chris Atkinson replied that there had been similar conversations within Basildon Station and Southend Central Station. Demand for more trains often came from the main line and operationally, there were a different range of options. A graph would be sent to show the operational frequency of the trains. Chris Atkinson went on to say that one train route could have more trains than another route and the perception that Councillor Pothecary mentioned was heard often but all stations were treated equal.
Councillor Pothecary mentioned that there seemed to be fewer trains and more cancellations with no extra trains scheduled in to replace the cancellations. Chris Atkinson explained that extra trains were not scheduled in because of the time gaps where freight trains would be passing in that time. All routes were running on full capacity and there were around 20 trains per hour in which no more could be put on.
Regarding Stanford le Hope station, Councillor Piccolo sought clarification on whether there would be a ticket office or ticket machines according to rumours he had heard. He went on to say that ticket machines did not have some of the features that a ticket office could provide. Confirming that there would be no ticket office, Chris Atkinson said the road opposite the station would need to be dug up to erect a ticket office there. It was not practical so ticket machines would be installed in the station instead. The station would have staff on site to help customers with ticket machine purchases. The one feature that would not be possible on a ticket machine would be claiming a refund; this would need to be done at another station. Councillor Piccolo queried whether discounted tickets such as family tickets and OAP tickets could be obtained from the ticket machine. Chris Atkinson would check and report back to the Committee.
Referring to Chris Atkinson’s comments earlier in regards to train drivers carrying out safety checks during line side issues, Councillor Hamilton asked if there was a station master to undertake these checks. He also questioned whether ticketing options could be more flexible such as extending Oyster out to other stations. He also mentioned that ticket machines were unable to give route information to passengers whereas a ticket office was able to do this. Explaining that staff would be present at Stanford le Hope station, Chris Atkinson said staff would be able to help with route information. In regards to Oyster, c2c was considering a smart ticketing system similar to the London system. On station masters, these were known as Platform Dispatchers and a number of c2c staff was being trained in safety measures but they were not on platforms as standard. However, Platform Dispatchers would be in place in stations that were identified as needing them.
On Oyster cards, Councillor Piccolo commented that the card only extended to Grays. Many people had to alight/board at Grays to be able to use their Oyster. Chris Atkinson explained that the Oyster extended to Grays because c2c had a train route terminating at Grays and this was not due to borough boundaries. He reiterated that c2c was looking into smart ticketing options to enable use on c2c and London routes.
The Chair thanked the representatives for their presentation and update.