Eurostar, the high speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, has reported solid progress over the past year delivering continued growth in both passenger numbers and overall sales revenues.
Following the transformation of the business from a partnership of three railways to a single, unified corporate entity on 1 September 2010, the business has reported a preliminary, unaudited net profit of £20.8 million in its first full year of operation as a standalone company.
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: “Eurostar continues to make good progress against a difficult economic backdrop and on-going uncertainty across Europe. Over the last year we have invested in upgrading our service and product and this has resulted in strong growth in sales revenues and passenger numbers. Having completed our first financial year as a standalone business and delivered a strong performance we are now well positioned to build on this momentum.”
Total sales revenue in 2011 grew by 6%, from £760m to £803m, with particularly strong growth in the second half of the year. On a like for like basis, after adjusting the 2010 results for the volcanic ash cloud impact1, sales revenues have grown by 10% and showed positive growth in each quarter throughout 2011.
Passenger numbers for the year ending 31 December 2011 rose 2% from 9.5million to 9.7million reflecting Eurostar’s continued focus on the customer experience and the increasing number of travellers choosing high-speed rail over plane for short haul travel in Europe.
The number of leisure travellers grew by 2% year on year with particularly strong growth in Q4, which was 4% higher than in 2010. Eurostar has seen that consumers are maintaining their discretionary household spend on leisure travel.
Throughout 2011, the number of international passengers originating outside the EU, including those from the BRIC markets, showed particularly impressive growth up 20% in spite of the tough economic climate. These passengers now account for 9% of all Eurostar passengers.
The number of business travellers in 2011 was 3% lower than in 2010. In Q4, business traveller numbers were 5% lower than prior year, where the deteriorating economic environment and the Eurozone debt crisis contributed to a softening in demand for business travel.
Against this backdrop of continued growth in passenger numbers, Eurostar is pleased to report significant progress to its £700 million fleet investment programme. The delivery of 10 new Eurostar e320 train sets is progressing well and the first of these newly designed sets are now nearing completion of the first phase of their construction. Production is on schedule with the first, completed set due to be delivered in 2014.
At the same time, the complete overhaul and redesign of Eurostar’s existing fleet of trains is progressing well. When the new and refurbished sets enter service, the Eurostar fleet will be equipped with advanced Wi-Fi and on-board ‘info-tainment’ which will include real-time travel and destination information as well as interactive entertainment including video-on-demand, music and news-feeds.