Eurostar, the high-speed passenger rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, has announced its results for the third quarter of 2011, having delivered a solid performance during the period with sales revenues up 7% (£197m in 2011 vs. £183m in 2010). Looking back across the year to date, total sales revenue figures have grown by 5% compared to the same period in 2010 (£617m in 2011 vs £588m in 2010).
The total number of passengers travelling on Eurostar services between January and September 2011, rose by 1% compared to the same period last year (7.3m in 2011 vs. 7.2m in 2010). Excluding the estimated impact of the ash cloud disruption in 2010, the underlying increase in passenger numbers for the year to date was 3%.
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive, Eurostar, said: "We have delivered a solid performance during both the third quarter and the year as a whole although the tough trading environment across Europe demands a cautious watching brief. Since the beginning of the year we have seen growth in both our sales revenues and passenger numbers reinforcing our popularity with regular and new travellers alike."
In spite of an uncertain economic climate, Business Premier sales revenues grew 2% in Q3 2011 vs. Q3 2010. While this underlines the operator's positive performance during 2011, Eurostar remains cautious about the outlook moving forward in a challenging business environment.
The number of leisure travellers for the year to date grew by 2%. Research has shown that during previous economic downturns, leisure travellers have tended to protect their expenditure on short-haul leisure breaks, and this behaviour appears to have been borne out by Eurostar's experience.
This trend is reinforced by the strong growth in international passenger numbers, up 21% for the year to date and 15% for the third quarter compared with same periods in 2010. This increase has been evident throughout 2011 reflecting the continued favourability of the UK and Europe as a travel destination.
With London 2012 now less than a year away, Eurostar anticipates increased interest in the UK as a destination as the world's focus turns to the Games next year.
Eurostar has recently cemented its commitment to enhance the digital experience for travellers both before and during their trips. The recent launch of a free mobile application, which allows passengers to book journeys on-the-go and receive tickets direct to their mobile devices, is already proving popular with customers.
Eurostar is also introducing on board Wi-Fi connectivity and state-of-the-art infotainment for its fleet of high speed trains as part of its £700million investment programme.
Nicolas Petrovic said: "With our new mobile App it's easier than ever before for customers to access our services on the move. This is the first in a series of digital initiatives and is evidence of our continued commitment to upgrading the online experience for our customers."
Eurostar is the high-speed train service linking St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Paris, Brussels, Lille and Calais as well as a train to Disneyland Paris, Avignon and the French Alps.
The current Eurostar train was first introduced into service in 1994 carrying 750 passengers and operating at speeds of up to 300kph. Since then, the fleet of 28 trains has carried more than 115 million passengers between London and the Continent. Following their refurbishment these trains will continue to form a core part of the Eurostar fleet, offering a convenient London to Paris train and a London to Brussels train.
Aude Criqui, Eurostar Press Office, Times House, Regent Quarter, Bravingtons Walk, London, N1 9AW, 0044 (0)20 7843 5500, www.eurostar.com