Eurostar has reported continued growth in passenger numbers for the first half of the year, as well as a resilient performance for sales revenues. During the period, passenger numbers increased 2% from 4.7million in the first half of last year to 4.8 million. Sales revenues grew 1% from £421 million last year to £425 million.
The train operator says the growth is due to demand from leisure travelers from both sides of the channel, as they continue enjoying leisure breaks. However, business travel weakened during the second quarter of the first half after having a broadly flat first quarter. This was due to the number of public holidays and eurozone crisis – both of which have impacted many business consumers’ travel plans.
Eurostar also continues to be a big attraction for foreign travellers visiting London, as passenger numbers from outside Europe grew 11% during the first half compared to last year. This was partially driven by a strong rise in passenger numbers from the US and Far East – who consider a Eurostar journey an integral part of the European tour, especially during the Olympic year.
Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic says they have given a resilient performance over the first half of the year despite the difficult conditions of the economy. Leisure bookings have continued growing, and they have seen good demand for travel to London for the summer. They had one of their busiest weekends on record for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and they look forward to welcoming visitors from everywhere in Europe to enjoy all the events featured at the Olympic Games.
Petrovic added that, while leisure sales have improved over the last six months, there’s no doubt business travellers and corporate clients – especially in the financial services market – are feeling the squeeze and reducing their travel budget as they adjust to economic conditions. The combination of the London 2012 Games and economic pressure has meant there are different travel patterns seen this year. The traditional business close-down across Europe for the summer is starting earlier, as everyone turns to watch the Olympic celebrations.
The high-speed train operator was established in 1994 as a partnership between three rail firms – London and Continental Railways (LCR), SNCF and SNCB. Eurostar became one, unified corporate entity on September 1, 2010. Its current 28 trains can carry 750 passengers and travel at speeds of up to 300kph. It offers services between St Pancras International, Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International, Disneyland Resort Paris, Lille, Calais, Paris, Brussels, Avignon and the French Alps.
Eurostar is playing a key role in its sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games by bringing both athletes and spectators to the Games. It’s transporting the Belgian and French Olympic and Paralympic teams. Additionally, the company is staging ‘Traction’, an original one-day summer arts festival, on July 14. This will be part of the activities in the London 2012 Festival. ‘Traction’ will be held at the newest creative venue in the British capital – Granary Square, which is next to the Eurostar terminal. The festival will bring up-and-coming arts, musical and dace performers from throughout Europe together to celebrate the continent’s diversity of talent.
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