—Leisure ticket sales up 4% in first half of 2009
—Troubled financial sector main cause of overall 7% fall in sales
—Record punctuality of 95.7% since Channel Tunnel fully re-opened
Eurostar, the provider of high-speed, carbon neutral rail journeys between the UK and the Continent, today announced sales results for the first six months of 2009.
Despite the recession, Eurostar reported a 4% rise in leisure sales against the same period in 2008, following a surge in inbound travel to the UK and a drive to encourage UK travellers to take full advantage of the increased availability of the lead-in £59 return fare.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar said:
“Despite market conditions, we still have good reason to be optimistic. We are benefiting from the strong Euro and seeing substantial increases in travellers from Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, which is also helping the UK economy. In addition, there is growing evidence of travellers switching from plane to high-speed train for longer, connecting journeys.
“The increase in leisure sales also shows that now, more than ever, people are prioritising the need to take a break and relax. In the UK, our ‘Little Break, Big Difference’ campaign has been very successful in reminding people that they deserve a getaway to the Continent to recharge their batteries, especially in these extraordinary times.”
Commenting on the current economic climate, Mr Brown said:
“As with all businesses in the transport sector, we have long acknowledged that we would face challenging times this year. Also for the first seven weeks of this year we operated a reduced service as a direct result of a fire on a shuttle in the Channel Tunnel in September 2008.
“The fact is that some of our biggest business clients are from the financial and banking sectors, and it follows that as they tighten their travel budgets, we, like the airlines, feel the effects. We continue to seek ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency.”
Mr Brown added:
“We are committed to transparent prices without hidden charges, and to fares that offer good value. Our UK website helps travellers find our entry fare of £59 return, and with a 45% increase in availability there has never been a better time to take an affordable and relaxing break. We even give customers tips on activities in our destinations which are extremely cheap or even free.”
Eurostar has achieved record punctuality since the Channel Tunnel fully reopened on 23 February, with 95.7% of trains arriving on time.
Ticket sales between January and June 2009 totalled £342.2 million – a decrease of 7% against the same period in 2008. Traveller numbers reached 4.34 million, 6% below the 4.63million who travelled during the same period in 2008 but still 11% up on 2007, before Eurostar’s move from Waterloo to St Pancras International and High Speed 1.
Since 2007, Eurostar has seen increasing demand from the UK regions, with about a third of UK sales generated from outside London. A newly launched, regional advertising campaign highlights the value and ease of rail journeys from cities like Bristol and Derby to destinations across Europe, via a single connection at St Pancras International.*
Eurostar has welcomed the successful introduction of high-speed commuter trains on High Speed 1, and looks forward to working with Southeastern to further develop services for the benefit of both international and domestic traveller.