Eurostar Gains Travellers As High Oil Price Hits Airlines

19 Jul 2005
  • 3.68 million passengers carried in first half – up 8% on 2004
  • Sales in first half of £245m – up 14% on 2004
  • 17% growth in number of business travellers
  • "Reinvention" of product due to launch on 1st September

Eurostar, the high-speed train operator that links the UK with France and Belgium, says rising air fares among competitors helped it attract thousands more travellers in the first half of the year.
The number of travellers using Eurostar grew by 8% in the first six months of 2005, to 3.68 million, compared with 3.41 million in the same period last year. Sales grew by 14% to £245m, compared with £214m in 2004. Growth on Eurostar's London-Brussels route was particularly strong, as short journey times and strong punctuality have led to many travellers switching from other carriers.
Eurostar's market share again reached a record during the first half. On the London-Paris route, Eurostar carried 69% of air/rail travellers in May 2005, and nearly 63% on the London-Brussels route.
Rising oil prices have led to airline competitors increasing their fares, with as much as £16 added to a short-haul return journey between London and Paris.
Business travellers are increasingly turning to high-speed train travel as they need city-centre to city-centre convenience and fast check-in, which airlines are unable to offer. Eurostar saw a surge in business travellers, up 17% in the first half of the year, helped by the refurbishment of its trains, which now offer on-board power sockets and an even more comfortable journey.
Punctuality in the first half was 86%, comparing strongly with the typically lower punctuality rates for airlines operating on Eurostar routes.
Paul Charles, Director of Communications, Eurostar, said: "More travellers are choosing Eurostar in a climate where higher oil prices have led to higher airline fares. Once they've experienced high-speed rail, and the greater convenience and punctuality we offer, travellers stay with us which is why we're continuing to see strong year-on-year growth."
Eurostar's stance of not favouring one distribution channel over another has also helped growth. Mr. Charles added: "We don't favour one booking method over another. So, whether travellers are booking their tickets, hotels and car hire through eurostar.com; high street, online and offline travel agents; or travel management companies, we are here to support all channels."
On 1st September, Eurostar will be "reinventing" its product, introducing three distinct classes on-board and tailored services for business and leisure travellers.
First class will be divided into separate carriages. Business Premier, the highest class with 10-minute check-in and exclusive lounge access, will service business travellers while Leisure Select, with 30-minute check-in, will offer dedicated service for those leisure travellers who want to indulge. Standard will continue as present. Ticket prices will be based on how far in advance bookings are made and the level of flexibility/exchangeability required.
The fresh approach follows the results of Eurostar's largest ever research study among travellers and potential future Eurostar users.
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 with Brussels just 1h53m away from London and Paris just 2h15m.
Editor's Notes:
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. 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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For more information:Eurostar Press Office+44 (0)20 7922 4494press.office@eurostar.co.uk

Market Share Data

(compiled from Civil Aviation Autdority and Eurostar data)

London to Paris
May 2005
May 2004

Eurostar
69.37%
64.54%

BA
10.61
13.61%

BMI
4.20%
4.98%

Air France
12.29%
12.03%

Easyjet
3.45%
4.70%

Other
0.08%
0.13%

Total
100%
100%

 

London to Brussels
May 2005
May 2004

Eurostar
62.27%
57.04%

BA/SN B
21.57%
23.27%

BMI
13.28%
17.10%

VLM/VE
2.57%
2.42%

Other
0.31%
0.17%

Total
100%
100%