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Eurostar enjoys 2% passenger increase but World Cup restrains growth

Eurostar has carried over 145 million passengers since opening in 1994

Factors including South Americans staying at home for the World Cup and decreased demand for holidays in northern Europe stunted Eurostar’s growth between January and June this year.

The cross-Channel train operator saw passenger numbers rise by only 2 per cent to 5 million and revenues by just 0.5 per cent to £456 million in the first half.

Chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said: “We were hit by a number of factors in the first half but we are now beginning to see a more-benign trading environment with encouraging signs of economic stability in France as well as t he UK.”

Business-passenger bookings were up by 6 per cent reflecting the improvement in sentiment on both sides of the Channel but leisure traffic was flat.

Petrovic said: “British travellers who might usually have taken one City break at Easter and one at the May bank holiday just took the one.

“And Brazilians, who are big fans of Eurostar, simply put off their European holidays for the football. But we are pretty hopeful they are coming back.”

He added that the service had launched two post-World Cup deals for UK passengers including £99 return to Paris, Brussels or Lille on certain trains.

He said: “Targeting consumers who may have chosen to defer their traditional summer getaway makes sense and should be felt in the third quarter as we see travel patterns return to normal.”