Eurostar saw increases in both traveller numbers and ticket sales in the third quarter of 2008 (July-September). Eurostar carried 2.37 million travellers, an increase of 6.4% against the same period last year. The increase occurred despite Eurotunnel’s closure of the Channel tunnel on 11 and 12 September, which caused a reduced level of Eurostar services for the rest of the month. Ticket revenues rose by 2.4% to £152.3 million.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: “High-speed rail continues to attract more travellers. Eurostar’s good value fares, fast city centre-to-city centre journey times and enjoyable on-board experience are all reasons why people are switching to the train.
“Eurostar’s growth in the third quarter is particularly encouraging given the incident in the Channel Tunnel and that the comparative three-month period in 2007 was boosted by the Rugby World Cup.
“Our staff have done an amazing job to restore 93% of capacity within a very short time and this has enabled travellers to carry on booking with confidence.”
High-speed rail’s reliability continues to outstrip air travel. Eurostar’s punctuality for January-July 2008 averaged 92.6% compared with an average of 64.8% for the airlines operating on the London-Paris and London-Brussels routes, according to the latest comparative data. For the third quarter (June-September 2008), Eurostar’s punctuality was even better at 93.5%.
In the first nine months of the year, Eurostar carried 7.0 million travellers, up 13.9% on last year, with ticket sales up 17.2% to £521.1 million.
Eurostar is seeing strong growth in demand from the UK regions, with increases of up to 100% in the number of travellers during the first nine months of 2008 from towns and cities in the Midlands and North of England.
On 1 October 2008, Eurostar launched an amended timetable that makes best use of the Channel Tunnel capacity provided by Eurotunnel. This timetable represents 93% of Eurostar capacity before the incident on 11 September 2008. It will continue in force for some months until Eurotunnel, the Channel tunnel operator, is able to restore full access to both tunnels under the sea.