And so it starts…

From this coming Monday (23.11), c2c will be reducing it’s services with the Tilbury loop taking the heaviest of the cuts. Ostensibly this is down to the number of their staff having to self isolate after having been tested positive for COVID-19. This is how it has been reported so far in the Thurrock Gazette: c2c reducing trains due to number of staff affected by Covid-19.

The Gazette piece does also mention falling passenger demand as a justification for the service cuts. To be honest, we’re surprised it’s taken this long for rail operators to be undertaking service cuts because demand has been low since the start of the crisis back in March. While it’s not mentioned in the article, a sustained drop in demand obviously means a drop in revenues. There’s only so much subsidy the government can chuck at a rail operator before the realities of capitalism make themselves felt and savings have to be made. The problem is that when these realities make themselves felt, the human cost is downplayed or disregarded completely.

Those of us stuck on the Tilbury loop will have to make do with off peak services from some stations going right down to one an hour in each direction. For those of us who don’t work the so called ‘conventional’ 9-5, we could well be in for an interesting challenge getting to and from work, particularly if we have to change trains at a junction station such as Pitsea. In a life that has become pretty restricted since March, this is yet another pain in the a**e that we have to deal with.

c2c’s Managing Director, Ben Ackroyd said this: “If passenger demand increases, and we have sufficient resources to deliver changes reliably, we won’t hesitate to take action.” Well, we’ll see about that won’t we? In a year when supposedly ‘wild’ predictions made just a few months ago become events and trends that happen and play out, we can’t really afford to rule anything out, can we?

It’s been an unwelcome shock to us just what people not only get used to but seem to tolerate. If these supposedly ‘temporary’ service cuts appear to be tolerated by a fair number of people, it honestly wouldn’t surprise us if c2c decide that in order to protect revenues and stem losses, these cuts become a bit more permanent. Suffice to say, we’ll be watching developments closely and will start screaming blue murder if this is the case.

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