A sharp recovery in business travel has helped Eurostar see a 12 percent rise in annual revenue to £760m in 2010 from £675.5m the previous year.
Passenger numbers also increased by 3 percent to 9.5 million, compared with 9.2 million in 2009.
The high-speed operator also said more people were choosing to travel beyond Paris and Brussels to destinations in the South of France, Germany and the Netherlands.
However the severe weather conditions experienced in the UK and on mainland Europe in December dented its figures, with thousands of passengers having to queue for hours at stations in London, Paris and Brussels. At the time, Eurostar said it was able to run 80-90 percent of services but added it also carried a lot of airline passengers who were unable to fly because of disruption at airports.
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: “We have reported a strong performance in 2010 with growth in both sales revenues and passenger numbers. The turnaround in the business market continued in the second half of the year. We are also starting to see a real shift in behaviour as customers are increasingly keen to explore new destinations by high speed rail.”
In September, Eurostar shifted its business from a partnership between three railways – SNCF, LCR and SNCB – to a single, unified corporate entity. This new structure has been aimed at putting Eurostar in a strong position to compete in an open-access world of on-rail competition.
The following month Eurostar also announced a capital investment of £700m in its fleet. This programme will begin in 2011 and includes the complete overhaul and redesign of its existing fleet as well as the purchase of 10 new trains. The new Eurostar e320 trains will be equipped to travel direct to a range of city centre destinations beyond Eurostar’s main routes of London-Paris and London-Brussels.
Petrovic added: “This is an exciting time for our passengers and our industry. With the expansion of new routes and services we are witnessing a real renaissance in rail travel. The combination of shorter journey times and environmental concerns are prompting more and more customers to choose high speed rail over plane. As the key link between the UK and the continent we see considerable potential for growth and expansion in an open-access world.”