18/07/2013 Eurostar growth gathers pace during the first half of 2013

18 Jul 2013

- Sales revenues up 7% year-on-year to £453 million
- Passenger numbers up 2% year-on-year to 4.9 million
- More than 200 extra services added to help meet demand over the summer period

Eurostar, the high-speed passenger rail service between the UK and mainland Europe today reported strong growth in both passenger numbers and sales revenues in the first half of 2013.  In the first six months of the year passenger numbers rose by 2% year-on-year to 4.9 million from 4.8 million in 2012.  Sales revenues grew by 7% in the first half of the year to £453 million from £425 million in the same period last year.

After a flat start to the year in which several extended periods of adverse weather impacted services, Eurostar has seen acceleration in the growth of traveller numbers in the second quarter with passenger traffic up 4% year-on-year.  Responding to this increase in demand the business boosted capacity this summer with the addition of more than 200 extra services between London and Paris.  Growth has been most marked within the UK and international (passengers originating outside the EU) markets, reflecting recent signs of an improvement in the economic environment in these areas.

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:

We have delivered a strong performance in the first half of 2013, characterised by new routes, extra services and increasing sales revenues.  A trip on Eurostar continues to be a big draw for international and European travellers alike.  We have seen a surge in booking from outside Europe and our new service to Provence has proved a great success with many services running at full capacity”.

New routes proving popular

In the first half of the year the leisure market continued to perform well, with leisure sales revenues growing by 8% compared to H1 2012.  Helping deliver this growth has been the introduction of several new routes and destinations during the period.  These include a new winter ski service to the Swiss Alps in partnership with high speed operator Lyria, as well as Eurostar’s first new direct service in over 10 years, the ‘Route du Soleil’, connecting London with Lyon, Avignon (TGV) and Aix-en-Provence (TGV). 

The service was trialled for an eight week period from 4 May to 29 June and proved extremely popular with travellers.  Overall, more than 90% of capacity was sold in the trial period and during the May half term the service was completely sold out.  Based on the success of the trial, Eurostar is working on plans to introduce a fuller, all year-round service to the South of France from 2015.

In addition to the very strong sales performance, the new route has also had a positive impact on travellers’ perceptions of connecting travel opportunities to and from the French provinces with Eurostar with overall connecting traffic to the Lyon, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence region up by 32% versus the first half of the previous year.

International traveller growth continues to boom

The number of international travellers choosing to include a trip on Eurostar in their travel plans continues to boom.  In line with the trend of recent periods, sales revenues from bookings originating outside the EU grew by an impressive 17% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2012. 

This has been driven by particularly strong growth in passenger volumes from the US, Australia and Brazil and reflects the positive impact of Eurostar’s programme of promotional activity around the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games which was designed to raise awareness of Eurostar services amongst a broader, more international audience.

Uplift in business travel

Business travel was boosted by a significant increase in the number of business travellers in the second quarter of the year.  Overall, during the first half of the year, the number of business passengers grew by 3% compared to the same period in 2012. 

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, continued:

The overall outlook for the business markets is more positive reflecting signs of greater economic stability, particularly in the UK.  We have seen a return to more normal patterns of business travel which were impacted negatively in the first half of 2012 ahead of the opening of the London 2012 Games.

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Definitions:

  • Sales revenue is the value of ticket bookings made during the period. This revenue is only recognised in the income statement at the date on which the passenger actually travels
  • Passenger volumes reflect the number of travellers carried by Eurostar in the period.

About Eurostar:

  • Eurostar continues to innovate and enhance its service and the investments it is making over the next two years will shape the business for future growth.  The £700 million investment in creating a new fleet of trains remains on track with the production of Eurostar’s new e320 trainsets and the refurbishment of its existing fleet progressing well.  Both the refurbished and new train sets are being delivered to a design created by Pininfarina, the world-famous Italian design house, and the business looks forward to presenting its customers with a completely new fleet by 2015.
  • 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.
  • Eurostar was established in 1994 as a partnership between three railway companies: SNCF, SNCB and LCR (London and Continental Railways). On 1 September 2010, Eurostar became a single, unified corporate entity owned by three shareholders: SNCF, SNCB and LCR.
  • The current Eurostar train was first introduced into service in 1994 carrying 750 passengers and operating at speeds of up to 300kph. Since then, the fleet of 28 trains has carried more than 130 million passengers between London and the Continent. Following their refurbishment these trains will continue to form a core part of the Eurostar fleet.