Eurostar saw record sales and traveller numbers in 2006 as it attracted thousands more travellers from the airlines. Sales topped half a billion pounds for the first time, rising 11.7% from £463.8 million to £518.3 million.
In total 7.85 million travellers chose Eurostar in 2006, up 5.4 % on 2005. Leisure traveller numbers rose by 4.5%, while the largest increase was in business traveller numbers, rising over 17% and generating an 18% increase in business sales revenue.
Eurostar continues to see strong year-on-year growth. It is now carrying 28% more travellers than in the 12 months before the opening in September 2003 of the first section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, now named High Speed 1.
Increased security at airports since the summer and foggy weather in the UK before Christmas meant that thousands of passengers switched from the airlines to Eurostar. Many of these travellers were using Eurostar for the first time and it is estimated that 1000 business customers a week have now permanently transferred from flying to high-speed rail.
Eurostar benefited from its global partnership with The Da Vinci Code blockbuster film that is set in London and Paris, encouraging tourism to both capital cities. The partnership was largely responsible for a 10.6% increase in international sales.
Punctuality in 2006 was a record 91.5%, far outstripping airline competitors on the London - Paris and London - Brussels routes. Latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show that punctuality at London’s airports remains around 70%, as in previous years.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said:
“These are record results on sales, traveller numbers and punctuality. I am delighted at the strong growth in the number of business travellers, who are discovering the punctuality and productivity advantages that Eurostar offers compared with the experience of flying. Many more travellers are being attracted by the environmental benefits of using high-speed rail instead of short-haul air.
“We are increasing traveller numbers both in and beyond our three core countries. We are making good progress in attracting more travellers from across Western Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany, where travellers are discovering that international connections are easier than they imagined. I am also pleased that our international sales continue to increase. The US is our principal market, whilst sales from Asia-Pacific are growing strongly.
“We expect 2007 to be another good year, with events such as the Tour de France in July and the Rugby World Cup in the autumn already generating strong demand in the groups market.”
The move from Waterloo International and the launch of services from St Pancras International on 14 November 2007 will make journeys between the UK, France and Belgium even quicker and open up Eurostar to millions of new travellers. Eurostar will minimise disruption by moving overnight, in the biggest change in the company’s history.
Eurostar will also open a new parkway station at Ebbsfleet International, just off Junction 2 of the M25, near Bluewater shopping centre and Dartford in north Kent. This station will serve a catchment of over 10 million people and, together with Ashford International, will lead to a 45% increase in Eurostar services serving Kent.