Strong leisure ticket sales have failed to halt Eurostar sales falling 7 percent in the first six months of 2009.
Despite the recession, the high-speed train operator reported a 4% rise in leisure sales against the same period in 2008, following a surge in inbound travel to the UK on the back on the weakness in Sterling, plus a strong push to encourage UK travellers to take advantage of cheap lead-in fares.
Richard Brown, Chief Executive, Eurostar said: “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.”
Commenting on the current economic climate, he said: “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.”
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 4.63 million 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. 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.