Eurostar delivers strong half year results

16 Jul 2008

--Ticket sales up 25%, traveller numbers up 18% in first half of 2008--Demand from UK regions and rising cost of flying help to drive high-speed rail growth
Eurostar, the high-speed train operator between the UK and mainland Europe, today announced surging demand during the first six months of 2008. Growth in traveller numbers was greatest in towns and cities to the north of London, which now enjoy easy access to Eurostar's new London station, St Pancras International, and its 186mph cross-Channel services on High Speed 1, the UK's first high-speed line.
Ticket sales between January and June 2008 totalled £368.8 million – an increase of 24.7% against the same period in 2007. Traveller numbers reached 4.63 million – an 18.3% year-on-year increase.
Growing numbers of travellers are choosing Eurostar for carbon neutral journeys to the Continent, with high-speed rail fares unaffected by the rising oil prices that have forced airlines to raise ticket prices on both short-haul and long-haul flights.
The introduction of good value through fares to the Continent from over 130 British towns and cities has been a key factor driving demand in the UK regions. Eurostar and nine UK train operators now sell fares (starting from between £67 and £92 return) for travel to Paris, Brussels and Disneyland Resort Paris. UK travellers can also buy through fares to other destinations across Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
Cities seeing the strongest growth in Eurostar travellers include:
Derby - up 190% (through fares from £79 return to Paris/Brussels)Nottingham - up 131% (from £79 return to Paris/Brussels)Sheffield - up 128% (from £79 return to Paris/Brussels)York - up 127% (from £79 return to Paris/Brussels)Leicester - up 113% (from £77 return to Paris/Brussels)Newcastle – up 107% (from £82 return to Paris/Brussels)Leeds - up 99% (from £79 return to Paris/Brussels)Birmingham - up 70% (from £77 return to Paris/Brussels)Milton Keynes – up 68% (from £77 return to Paris/Brussels)Glasgow – up 54% (from £89 return to Paris/Brussels)Manchester - up 52% (from £84 return to Paris/Brussels)Edinburgh – up 49% (from £89 return to Paris/Brussels)
Percentage increase in travellers using Eurostar Jan.-June 2008 vs. Jan.-June 2007. Other towns/cities and counties available on request.
From 8 September 2008, Eurostar is increasing its timetable to meet growing traveller demand by adding an 18th daily service in each direction on the London-Paris route. The extra service will provide a half-hourly service during the morning and evening peaks and close to an hourly service throughout the rest of the day.
Eurostar maintained its strong punctuality levels in the first six months of 2008 with 92.6% of its trains arriving on time or early. This compares with an average of 62.3% between January and April 2008 (the latest available figure) for the airlines competing on its routes between London and Paris/Brussels.
Demand at Eurostar's new station at Ebbsfleet International in north Kent, just off junction 2 of the M25 and close to Bluewater shopping centre, is fully meeting expectations. Eurostar is a founding patron of the competition to build the Ebbsfleet Landmark, part of the campaign to put the station and future Ebbsfleet Valley development firmly on the map.
Traveller numbers at Ashford International also continue in line with expectations following the opening of High Speed 1.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: "This impressive growth in traveller numbers clearly demonstrates that Eurostar's move to St Pancras International has opened up high-speed rail services to millions more people across the UK.
"The impact of rising oil prices on air fares, combined with growing awareness of the much greater environmental impact of flying, are causing more and more travellers to switch from plane to train.
"However, whilst we expect traveller numbers and ticket revenues to continue to rise, it is clear that the wider economic environment is deteriorating and we expect that the rate of growth will slow in the second half of the year."
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Notes to Editors:
1. Eurostar is the high-speed train service linking St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris, Avignon and the French Alps.
2. Eurostar now has through fares deals with First Great Western, National Express East Anglia, First Capital Connect, Virgin Trains, National Express East Coast, East Midlands Trains, London Midland, Chiltern Railways and Hull Trains.
3. Ebbsfleet International in north Kent is close to junction 2 of the M25 and Bluewater shopping centre, and lies at the heart of a catchment of 10 million people. It offers seven trains a day to Paris and five a day to Brussels, with ample parking and taxi and Avis car hire facilities. Eurostar travellers can also connect with the station for free on Southeastern train services and Fastrack buses.
4. Ashford International in Kent provides three services a day to Paris, a daily service to Disneyland Resort Paris and seasonal weekly services to the French Alps and Avignon. The station provides ample parking and connects with domestic rail services.
5. Eurostar is the world's first train operator to make all journeys carbon neutral. Independent research has shown that a Eurostar journey between London and Paris generates one-tenth of the carbon dioxide produced by an equivalent flight. Under its Tread Lightly initiative, Eurostar has set a target of further reducing its CO2 emissions by 25% per traveller journey by 2012.
6. Eurostar and Friends of the Earth are working together in the UK on Eurostar's Tread Lightly initiative and The Big Ask, Friends of the Earth's climate campaign. To find out more about Friends of the Earth or The Big Ask please click here www.friendsoftheearth.co.uk.
7. Eurostar is a founder member of Railteam, a partnership between Europe's leading high-speed train operators that is developing simpler ways to book and travel on the fast-expanding, European high-speed rail network.
8. Eurostar and Eurotunnel are entirely separate companies. Eurostar operates high-speed passenger trains, while Eurotunnel operates a vehicle shuttle service and the Channel tunnel itself. Eurostar is Eurotunnel's biggest customer.
9. To book through fares via Eurostar, or to find out more information, go to www.eurostar.com or call 08705 186 186.
For more information:Eurostar Press Office+44 (0)20 7843 5500press.office@eurostar.co.uk
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