Eurostar achieves record market shares despite difficult summer period

17 Oct 2005
  • Traveller numbers up 4.3 percent in first 9 months of 2005
  • Sales revenues up 10 percent during same period
  • London-Brussels market share up 30 percent in last two years
  • Business travellers continue to switch from short-haul airlines

Eurostar, the high-speed train operator that links the UK with France and Belgium, says a resilient business market helped it to recover from a challenging summer period, where overseas leisure travellers were briefly put off from visiting London.
The increase in travellers helped Eurostar to achieve a record market share on its core London-Paris and London-Brussels routes. In August, the latest month where data is available (see below), Eurostar gained 71 percent of the air/rail market between London and Paris, while taking 64 percent of the air/rail market between London and Brussels (in August 2003, Eurostar had 49 percent market share on the Brussels route, an increase of 30 percent since then).
The number of travellers using Eurostar grew by 4.3 percent in the first nine months of 2005, to 5.63 million, compared with 5.4 million in the same period last year. Sales to the end of September grew by 10 percent to £354m, compared with £323m in 2004, as more travellers chose to pay extra for greater ticket flexibility.
Strong train punctuality also encouraged travellers to switch from airlines, whose punctuality has worsened this year according to recent figures from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Punctuality in the first 9 months of 2005 was 87 percent, comparing strongly with the average of around 70 percent for airlines operating on Eurostar routes.
There was a strong growth in the number of business travellers, which helped to cushion the slowdown in the leisure market. The number of business travellers, who are traditionally less frequent users over the summer period, actually increased by 15%. They continue to be attracted by more reliable services, as well as the new Business Premier service – dedicated business carriages which enable greater productivity on-board.
Paul Charles, Director of Communications, Eurostar, said: "Our market share has risen to record levels on the most competitive routes in Europe. Travellers are recognising the beauty of high-speed rail, which is environmentally superior to airlines, as well as being far more comfortable in terms of journey quality."
The London attacks in the summer temporarily put off some travellers during the holiday period but Eurostar's three core city destinations of London, Paris and Brussels remain as popular as ever.
In 2007, Eurostar will be switching its entire operation from Waterloo International to St. Pancras International, when the Channel Tunnel Rail Link has been completed. Journey times will be even faster from London, with Lille just 1h20m away, Brussels only 1h51m away and Paris just 2h15m. Punctuality will also be improved further because Eurostar will have its own dedicated high-speed line.
Editor's Notes:

London to Paris
Aug 05
Aug 04

Eurostar
71.03%
67.87%

BA
9.91%
11.82%

Bmi
4.38%
4.47%

Air France
11.69%
11.21%

Easyjet
2.99%
4.39%

Other
0.00%
0.23%

Total
100%
100%

London to Brussels
Aug 05
Aug 04

Eurostar
64.36%
63.38%

BA / SN B
20.36%
21.34%

Bmi
12.95%
13.18%

VLM / VE
2.01%
1.86%

Other
0.32%
0.23%

Total
100%
100%

1. Eurostar is the fast train service linking London, Ashford, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Avignon, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris and the French Alps.
2. Eurostar was named "Train Operator of the Year" at the National Rail Awards 2004; "World's Leading Rail Service" in the 2003 and 2004 World Travel Awards; "Best Rail Network" at the Business Travel World Awards 2004 and "Best Rail Operator" at the Travel Weekly Globe Awards 2004.
3. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are two entirely different companies with two different management teams. Eurostar is Eurotunnel's largest customer.
4. Eurostar now has three classes of travel – Business Premier, Leisure Select and Standard. Ticket prices, which start at £59 return in Standard; £139 return in Leisure Select; and £319 in Business Premier, are based on how far in advance bookings are made, and the level of flexibility and exchangeability required.
5. To book tickets for Eurostar, hotels, or car hire, go to www.eurostar.com , call 08705 186186 or contact your travel agent or Travel Management Company.
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