Essex Thameside is a railway contract, and former franchise, for the provision of passenger services on the London, Tilbury and Southend line in east London and south Essex. It was formed on 26 May 1996, following the privatisation of British Rail and the franchise was originally called London, Tilbury and Southend.
The only train operating company on the line to date has been c2c. Following a number of temporary extensions caused by problems with the rail franchising system, c2c was awarded a new 15-year franchise which commenced on 9 November 2014.
As part of an abandoned round of re-franchising, bids were received from the shortlisted parties in September 2012 with a winner expected to be announced in January 2013. In October 2012 the government announced the refranchising process would be put on hold, pending a review of the franchising system and the failures of the InterCity West Coast franchising process.
In January 2013 the government announced a revised invitation to tender would be issued in summer 2013 with an interim contract for up to two years to be negotiated with National Express. In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would again be extended until 13 September 2014.
A further extension of up to eight weeks became necessary following a delay in awarding the franchise. In June 2014 c2c were awarded a new franchise to commence in November 2014.
In February 2017 National Express sold c2c to Trenitalia.
Essex Thameside History
Essex Thameside Background
Passenger services on the London, Tilbury and Southend line were part of the Network SouthEast sector of British Rail. 1 April 1994 Network SouthEast was broken up into train operating units. One of these was LTS Rail, providing all regular services, and management of 25 stations, from Fenchurch Street along the London, Tilbury and Southend line to Shoeburyness, including a loop line via Rainham and a branch line via Ockendon.
LTS Rail was incorporated on 9 June 1994 as a subsidiary of the British Railways Board and acted as a 'shadow franchise' ahead of being offered to private operators.
Essex Thameside Initial Franchise
The initial London, Tilbury and Southend franchise was one of eight to be announced on 14 December 1994. The invitation to tender was issued on 17 May 1995.
Essex Thameside 1998 Renegotiated Franchise
Due to unexpected passenger growth, the franchise was renegotiated in 1998 to provide:
Essex Thameside Abandoned 2011 renewal and extension to 2013
The franchise, now renamed Essex Thameside, was due to be renewed on 29 May 2011 and the consultation process began in 2009. However following the 2010 United Kingdom General Election there was a change of government and the franchise renewal process was delayed so it could be reviewed. On 23 December 2010 the Department for Transport granted National Express an extension until 26 May 2013.
Essex Thameside Abandoned 2013 renewal and extension to 2014
The invitation to tender asked for proposals to deliver the following optional schemes:
In January 2013 the government announced a revised invitation to tender would be issued in summer 2013 with an interim contract for up to two years to be negotiated with National Express.
In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would again be extended until 13 September 2014.
Essex Thameside 2014 renewal
In September 2013 a revised invitation to tender was issued, with the winner was due to be announced in May 2014 and the new franchise due to start in September 2014.
The minimum train service requirement for the franchise for 07:00-21:59 Monday to Friday and 09:00-19:59 on Saturday is as follows:
The train service requirement is met if a service calls at Stratford and Liverpool Street instead of Fenchurch Street and Limehouse.
Responsibility for upkeep of stations is to be transferred from Network Rail to the train operator under the new franchise. The new operator will manage all stations on the route except Liverpool Street (to remain under Network Rail operation), Stratford and West Ham (both TfL).
Fenchurch Street will transfer from Network Rail management to the new operator. The operator is required to implement ITSO-compliant smartcard tickets within five years.
After a delay National Express was announced as the winner with the franchise running from 9 November 2014 until 2029. In February 2017 National Express sold the operating company c2c to Trenitalia.
Emergency Measures During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The franchise was effectively suspended on 1 April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic with an emergency measures agreement entered into to vary the terms of the franchise agreement.
This was replaced on 20 September 2020 by an emergency recovery measures agreement. This temporary arrangement lasted until the legal replacement of the franchise agreement with a rail contract.
Essex Thameside 2021 Rail Contract
The franchise became a rail contract from 19 July 2021, and the expiry date was brought forward from 2029 to 23 July 2023.
Essex Thameside Overview
Essex Thameside Current operator: c2c