Eurostar, the high-speed passenger rail service between mainland Europe and the UK, today reported continued, strong growth in both sales revenues and passenger numbers during the first quarter of 2014. Compared to same period in 2013, total sales revenues grew by 7% to £227 million1 (Q1 2013: £213 million) while total passenger numbers increased by 3% to 2.3 million (Q1 2013: 2.2 million).
Business markets show continued improvement
During the first three months of the year, Eurostar has seen signs that growing economic confidence has translated into stronger business travel bookings on both sides of the channel. During the period growth in sales of Eurostar’s Business Premier class of travel has continued with passenger volumes up 6%. This trend, first reported in the second half of 2013 and related largely to the UK corporate travel market, has now begun to take hold in Eurostar’s other core markets. This positive corporate sentiment has contributed to Eurostar’s strong performance and demonstrates the resilience of those businesses with a foothold on both sides of the English Channel.
Commenting on the first quarter performance, Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said:
“The improvement we have seen in the corporate travel market in recent months underpins the strong performance reported today. Coupled with the benign winter weather which saw far lower levels of weather-related disruption than in previous years, the first quarter has set us on course for continued growth throughout the year. “
Growth in leisure travel across all markets
Strong sales of leisure tickets have also continued throughout the period with passenger volumes up 3% compared to the same period in 2013. The year-on-year growth has been delivered despite the fact that the 2014 Easter holidays fall outside the first quarter of the year. Traditionally a period with high volumes of leisure travel bookings, the absence of Easter ticket sales contribution from the first quarter figures highlights the underlying resilience of the leisure travel market. Demand for services among leisure travellers continues to grow across all Eurostar’s core markets and the Spring booking horizon is encouraging.
Improving the station experience for travellers
The publication of today’s results coincides with the opening of the first phases of Eurostar’s brand new ticket office in St Pancras International. Relocated to the existing check-in area within the station, the new ticket office features a striking new design and dedicated spaces for leisure and Business Premier passengers. Work on the final phase is on-going and scheduled for completion towards the end of May. Once complete, the new ticket office facilities will help streamline Eurostar travellers’ journeys through the station.
The work represents a significant financial investment, itself part of a wider programme of works to upgrade passengers facilities within Eurostar’s stations. This programme includes work currently underway at Lille Europe station to significantly increase the capacity of the Eurostar terminal in order to accommodate anticipated growth in the volume of connecting passengers. Also included in the investment programme are a series of planned upgrades to Eurostar’s business traveller lounges with work to transform the Brussels Midi lounge schedule to commence this summer.
Nicolas Petrovic continued:
“Our ongoing programme of investment spans every area of our business from our fleet of trains to the stations from which they operate. Eurostar travellers are already witnessing the output of these initiatives such as the recent introduction of a brand new staff uniform design. With many more initiatives scheduled to come online during our twentieth year of operation, 2014 is gearing up to be a watershed moment in Eurostar’s history.”