Eurostar traveller numbers rise by over 21% to record 2.17 million in first quarter of 2008

14 Apr 2008

-- Revenues increase by record 25% as more travellers are attracted to high-speed rail-- Punctuality hits all-time high of 93.6%-- Most people now concerned about environmental impact when planning short-haul journeys, YouGov survey finds-- Eurostar makes good progress in first year of 'Tread Lightly' initiative to reduce its environmental impact
Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train operator between Britain and mainland Europe, today (14 April) reported a 21.3% rise in traveller numbers to 2.17 million between January and March 2008, compared with the same period last year.
Ticket revenues increased by 25.2% to £178.4 million during the first full three-month period of carbon neutral journeys on High Speed 1, the new 186mph line between St Pancras International and the Channel Tunnel.
The record traveller numbers and revenues follow Eurostar's highly successful, overnight move of services to St Pancras International and High Speed 1 last November. Factors driving up demand include faster journey times, more connections to towns and cities across Britain, even better punctuality and the public's growing desire to switch to less environmentally damaging forms of transport. An early Easter, the leap year and Six Nations rugby tournament also gave an extra boost to the traveller and revenue figures.
Operating with new stations, a new railway and new depot, Eurostar achieved record punctuality of 93.6% of trains on time or within 15 minutes of schedule during the first quarter, even higher than the figure for 2007. Eurostar's on-time performance compares with an average of 68% during 2007 – the latest available data - for the airlines competing on its routes.
From the regions, the number of travellers using Eurostar for high-speed journeys to mainland Europe has increased substantially since the introduction last November of low-cost through fares from 68 towns and cities across Britain.
In the first three months of services on HS1, the number of travellers from the East Midlands and Yorkshire more than doubled, compared with a year earlier. Demand from counties north of London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Scotland all increased very significantly.
An independent YouGov survey* suggests that society's views about how they travel are shifting. More than half the UK public (57%) now has concerns about environmental impact when planning a journey of 300 – 400 miles. A third (33%) say that environmental concerns about a short-haul journey are more or much more important to them than a year ago, compared to just 3% who say environmental concerns are less or much less important than before.
The survey also signals that people are starting to act, and expecting others to do so. One in twenty (5%) says that over the next year or so, environmental concerns mean they are planning to switch from plane to train for journeys within the UK or to closer European destinations.
More than a third (37%) agree or strongly agree that in a few years' time, environmental concerns will have made short-haul flying socially unacceptable where there is an alternative of going by train.
A quarter (25%) of the UK public says that, having heard about the Tread Lightly initiative, they are now more likely to use Eurostar. Over the last 12 months, Eurostar has:Become the first train operator in the world to make all journeys carbon neutral, at no extra cost to travellers (from 14 Nov 2007)Purchased over 40,000 high-quality carbon dioxide (CO2) offset credits from renewable energy projects in China and IndiaInstalled a less environmentally damaging refrigerant on most of the train fleet, seven years before the EU deadlineProcured energy from lower carbon sources for the new UK head office, Temple Mills depot and Ashford International car parkIntroduced a waste management facility at Temple Mills, helping to maximise the amount of waste that is recycled or sent to an energy recovery plant, and ensuring that close to zero goes to landfill
Eurostar now actively monitors actual train energy consumption using on-board metering equipment. This has established that actual train energy consumption is less than projected. Eurostar is therefore recalculating a new, lower baseline against which to report progress in reducing its CO2 emissions per traveller journey.
Richard Brown, chief executive, Eurostar, said: "We are delighted at the public's ever growing desire to travel by Eurostar. It shows that High Speed 1 and our fabulous new stations are capturing people's imagination, combined with the fast, reliable and green advantages of our high-speed trains.
"I am pleased that we are making progress on our Tread Lightly initiative. As I said a year ago, we don't have all the answers, but we are chipping away at reducing our environmental impact and we will keep at it, right across the business. What's great is that both our staff and our travellers are 'doing their bit' and making a difference. We all have a duty to act."
*YouGov carried out an online survey of 2246 adults between 3 and 7 April 2008. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
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Notes to Editors:
1. Eurostar is the high-speed passenger train service linking St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Paris Gare du Nord, Brussels-Midi, Lille, Calais, Disneyland Resort Paris, Avignon and the French Alps.
2. St Pancras International is connected with seven mainline rail services at St Pancras, next door King's Cross and nearby Euston, including:St Pancras International: East Midlands Trains, First Capital ConnectKing's Cross: National Express East Coast, Hull TrainsEuston: Virgin Trains, London Midland, First Scottish Rail St Pancras International also connects with six London Underground lines.
3. Ebbsfleet International is strategically located for the whole of South East England, just off junction 2 of the M25 near Bluewater shopping centre in north Kent. Eurostar travellers can also reach both Ebbsfleet and Ashford International with free travel on connecting Southeastern train services and Fastrack buses.
4. On 14 November 2007, Eurostar became the world's first train operator to make all journeys carbon neutral. Under its 'Tread Lightly' initiative has set a target of reducing its CO2 emissions by 25% per traveller journey by 2012 Independent research has shown that a Eurostar journey between London and Paris / Brussels generates one-tenth of the CO2 produced by an equivalent flight.
5. Eurostar and Friends of the Earth are official partners in Britain, and collaborate on the development of Eurostar's 'Tread Lightly' initiative, and Friends of the Earth's 'The Big Ask' campaign.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. To book tickets for Eurostar, or to find out more information, go to www.eurostar.com, call 08705 186 186 or contact your travel agent.
For more information:Eurostar Press Office+44 (0)20 7843 5500press.office@eurostar.co.uk