Eurostar, the high speed passenger rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, today reported continued strong growth in the first half of 2011.
Overall sales revenues increased by 4% from £404 million to £421 million and passenger numbers went up by 3% from 4.6 million to 4.7 million.
This year-on-year growth is particularly strong given that in the first half of 2010 Eurostar benefited from increased sales revenues resulting from the ash cloud disruption, during which it ran 70 extra trains and carried 100,000 extra passengers.
Excluding the positive impact of the ash cloud disruption on the 2010 figures, underlying H1 2011 sales revenues in fact grew by 12% in comparison with the same period last year.
With holidays and short breaks increasingly a priority for consumers Eurostar is reporting a strong performance in leisure travel.
Over the first half leisure sales revenues grew by 8% and leisure passenger volumes were up 4%.
Demand for bookings over the summer period is high and over 950,000 passengers are expected to travel on Eurostar in July alone making this a bumper summer for high speed rail travel.
As a result, over 20 extra services have been scheduled to run over the summer.
Whilst Eurostar has reported a rise in the overall number of passengers over the last six months, there has been a particular spike in the volume of international travellers.
Over the first half of the year the number of international passengers rose by 21% to over half a million travellers.
This was driven in part by a strong increase in passengers originating from the US who increasingly see a trip on Eurostar as an integral part of a European tour.
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:
“Despite the pressures on household budgets, consumers are choosing to prioritise leisure travel over other discretionary purchases.
“In this difficult economic climate, we are finding that customers attach even greater value to their leisure time and are protecting short breaks and time away with family and friends.
Commenting on the rise in travellers coming to London, he went on to say:
“The growth in the number of travellers heading for London earlier in the year has gathered momentum and in the first half international bookings have gone up by over 20%.
With ‘Royal Wedding fever’, London 2012 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the horizon, London is highly attractive and remains a ‘hot’ destination for international visitors.”
Growth in business class travel in early part of 2011 continues through first half
In the first quarter of 2011 Eurostar saw a 9% rise in Business Premier sales revenues and this strong performance continued through the first six months of the year.
This uplift is a reflection of the high levels of transactions and activity among businesses operating between the UK and the continent, particularly the financial services sector which continues to outperform the general growth in the business travel market in terms of sales revenues and passenger numbers.
Nicolas Petrovic continued:
“Over the last six months we have introduced a range of upgrades to our business premier service including guaranteed boarding, new Alain Roux menus and onboard taxi booking to ensure that passengers’ time on board is as enjoyable and productive as possible.”