Eurostar celebrates 20 years in the business this November. Celebrations got off to a good start with the news that 10.1 million passengers used the express cross-channel service last year. Revenue grew by 7% and profits increased by 4% to £54 million. Passenger figures look set to increase still further with the planned introduction of new, longer distance services.
The popularity of Eurostar’s trial service last summer, the Route du Soleil, direct to the South of France, means Eurostar will launch a permanent, year-round service in the spring of 2015. The All-Year-in-Provence service will connect London direct with Lyon, Avignon and Marseilles.
The service is popular with business travellers, Brits living abroad and London’s burgeoning French community. Belgium and the Netherlands will also benefit with a direct service between London, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. This is expected to commence towards the end of 2016. An expanded ski service calling at Geneva for the first time is also planned next winter.
The London–Amsterdam route is the largest international airline market in Europe attracting over three million business and leisure passengers annually. Eurostar trains can make the journey in four hours – much quicker than travelling to and from airports with long check-ins and almost routine delays.
Throughout 2013 the number of international travellers choosing to join a Eurostar service continued to boom leading to an increase in international sales revenues of 18%. Top performing staff – pictured below – as well as growing economic confidence are thought to be behind the operator’s success.
Says Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive, Eurostar, ‘2014 will be a transformational year for Eurostar as our on-going programme of service initiatives and enhancements unlocks further potential in the business both at home here in Europe and further afield in our international markets.
Eurostar is coming of age and we have a wide ranging programme of activity scheduled throughout the year to celebrate our twentieth birthday in November.’
Business is brisk but there is still time for romance at Eurostar. Sources at Eurostar HQ, Times House in London, claim 20 couples have met and got together at Eurostar.
Eurostar was originally set up by British Rail, the SNCF and SNCB. Since 1st September 2010 it has been run as a single unified company – Eurostar International Ltd. EIL is owned by three shareholders: SNCF (55%), SNCB (5%) and London and Continental Railways (40%).