Eurostar is celebrating huge growth in traveller demand from the regions after its first year of operations at St Pancras International, the newly restored terminal for High Speed 1, the UK’s first high-speed line. Traveller numbers from the regions north of London have increased by up to 150% in the year since Eurostar move to the new station, thanks to the introduction of through fares from more than 130 towns and cities.
The growth figures demonstrate that travellers are taking advantage of easy rail connections between domestic train operators and Eurostar services, and higher frequencies and better punctuality than regional air services.
Eurostar offers through fares to the Continent with First Great Western, National Express East Anglia, First Capital Connect, Virgin Trains, National Express East Coast, East Midlands Trains, London Midland, Chiltern Railways and Hull Trains. Return through fares range from just £67 from Luton to only £89 from Glasgow.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: “Travellers are switching to Eurostar for a variety of reasons - good value through fares, high frequencies of service to the Continent, and the much lower environmental impact of rail travel.
“We’re delighted to see this growth, which is strong evidence that high-speed rail can provide a new alternative for short-haul journeys within the UK and for travel to mainland Europe.”
Examples of growth* in the regions include:
East Midlands: 100%: including Derbyshire 154%, Nottinghamshire 112%, Leicestershire 111%
Yorkshire: South Yorks 118%, East Yorks 100%, North Yorks 100%, West Yorks 68%
North East: 103%; including Tyne & Wear 114%, Co Durham 103%, Newcastle 106%, Teesside 105%
West Midlands: 53%; including Coventry 52% and Birmingham 49%
Greater Manchester: 54%; including Stockport 62% and Oldham 56%
Scotland: 38%; including Edinburgh 38%, Glasgow 29% and Aberdeen 41%
(*growth from 14 November 2007 to 2 November 2008 - latest data)
Rail travel is also being boosted by growing public concern about climate change. Since 14 November 2007 all Eurostar journeys have been carbon neutral at no extra cost to travellers when they book their tickets.
Independent research has also shown that a Eurostar journey between London and Paris/Brussels generates 10 times less carbon dioxide than an equivalent flight. Eurostar has set a target of further reducing its CO2 emissions by 25% per passenger journey by 2012.
In the first nine months of 2008 (Jan to Sept), Eurostar carried a total of 7.0 million travellers, up 13.9% on last year, with ticket sales up 17.2% to £521.1 million.
Since 1 October, Eurostar has operated an amended timetable that makes best use of the reduced Channel tunnel capacity provided by Eurotunnel, the Channel tunnel operator. This timetable represents 93% of Eurostar capacity before the incident on 11 September 2008, and is expected to continue in force until after Eurotunnel restores full tunnel capacity next spring.