St Pancras International lures 2m more passengers to Eurostar

15.4.2008   (Guardian)

The opening of St Pancras International station and the high-speed link through
southern England have helped Eurostar lure more than 2 million passengers to the
cross-Channel train service this year.

Eurostar said 2.17 million customers travelled between London, Paris and Brussels
in the first three months of the year – an increase of more than 21.3% on the
same period in 2007.

Nick Mercer, Eurostar’s commercial director, said the service was benefiting
from shorter journey times thanks to the £5.8bn high-speed link and more customers
from around Britain owing to the location of St Pancras, which is better connected
to the UK network than the former base at Waterloo. “The passenger increase is
coming from shorter journey times, better punctuality and improved connectivity,
particularly from the UK regions. We have seen a near doubling of passengers from places such as York and the east

Eurostar is embarking on a marketing campaign with Virgin Trains, East Midlands
Trains and National Express East Coast this summer and will tour stations in cities
including Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham to advertise deals such as £77 for a return trip from Sheffield to Paris.

Mercer said half the growth in passenger numbers came from new customers north of London, with the rest from ferry operators and airlines.  Eurostar had not lost as
many as expected from south-west England – it thought the move from Waterloo would
drive some towards Heathrow and Gatwick. “You always expect when making a geographical
move that you will lose a small proportion of customers, in our case from the
south-west. That has not happened.”

Ticket revenues for the privately owned firm rose 25.2% to £178.4m in the first
quarter, helped by the early Easter, the leap year and the Six Nations rugby tournament.

Eurostar also said that punctuality had reached a record high, with 93.6% of
services arriving on time.

St Pancras International lures 2m more passengers to Eurostar