16 March 2017
Eurostar, the high-speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, today reported that the signs of recovery in the trading environment at the end of last year have continued into 2017.
After a surge in late bookings towards the end of 2016, the business reported its busiest December ever and a strong start to the year. Sales revenues for the first 10 weeks of the year are up by 12% and the markets outside Europe are performing well.
This follows a challenging 2016 in which passenger numbers were down 4% (10.0 million 2016: 10.4 million 2015) in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Europe. Sales revenues decreased by 3% (£794 million 2016: £821 million 2015), a decline of 8% at constant exchange rates. The combination of tough trading conditions and lower demand resulted in an underlying operating loss of £25 million in 2016.
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:
“Despite the difficult trading environment last year, we continued to make major investments in new trains, our stations and our overall service. With the return of travellers from the US and business travel on the increase, the market is now rebounding strongly and we are optimistic about the growth prospects for the year.”
Boost in travellers coming from the US
Since the start of this year the number of US travellers increased by 17% compared with the same period last year as Eurostar reported a resurgence in demand from the US.
This trend was mirrored in the booking patterns of all passengers originating outside Europe where the volume of travellers for the first 10 weeks of 2017 has grown by 18% year-on-year - an increase which is testament to the enduring popularity of the Eurostar service and its destinations.
Uplift in business travel
The business market is also reporting positive growth this year, particularly in the UK where the number of business travellers in the first 10 weeks of 2017 versus 2016 was up by 4%.
To meet the growing demand for its services Eurostar is carrying out a major programme of investment in its fleet, stations and service. In addition to the introduction of its new e320 trains, the company has recently unveiled its new state-of-the-art business lounge in Gare du Nord in Paris.
With business travellers increasingly choosing high speed rail over plane, valuing the seamless journey, digital connectivity and ability to work onboard, the business lounge offers a stylish, comfortable environment for both working and relaxing.
The new lounge in Paris marks the first in a series of enhancements designed to transform the Eurostar experience which are due to be introduced over the coming months.