Eurostar credits move to St Pancras for boosting ticket revenues by 25 per cent

Five months ago, Eurostar executives were toasting the rail operator's successful move from Waterloo to St Pancras at the elegant champagne bar in its new terminal. They no doubt broke out the bubbly again yesterday after reporting record passenger numbers and revenues for the first three months of the year – as customers flock to the high-speed cross-Channel service which promotes itself as the eco-friendly transport of choice.

Eurostar ticket sales leapt by 25 per cent to £178.4m between January and March – the group's first full quarter since the big move across London. Passenger traffic rose 21 per cent to 2.17 million, while punctuality hit an all-time high of 93.6 per cent.

Nick Mercer, Eurostar's commercial director, said the figures were better than expected and the group was on course to hit its target of 10 million customers within two years. Last year, 8.3 million people went to the Continent by train.

One key factor in Eurostar's rising popularity, Mr Mercer added, was the increased speed of its trains, which now travel from London to Paris in two hours and 15 minutes and to Belgium in less than two hours. "The service has brought the two cities closer together," he said. "We call it the 'two-hour club'. Psychologically, people feel Paris and Brussels are now more on their doorstep."

The move to St Pancras had greatly improved access for travellers from across Britain, Mr Mercer said. Other reasons for the excellent sales figures were the early Easter and the Rugby World Cup in France.

Eurostar often markets itself as the best mode of travel for a romantic getaway in Paris, but Mr Mercer said it was also seeing customers fall out of love with air travel. "There used to be a romance about travelling," he added. "At airports now it is a very mundane and complicated process. We still hope to offer a service where the travelling is part of the excitement."

Another issue adversely affecting airlines is the environment, as passengers look for cleaner alternatives to short-haul flights. According to Eurostar, independent research has shown that flying between London and Paris generates ten times as much carbon dioxide as the same journey by train.

Public concern about the environment was highlighted by a YouGov survey of 2,200 adults this month. It found more than half had concerns about environmental impact when planning a journey of up to 400 miles. A third said environmental concerns about short-haul journeys had become more important to them than a year ago.

Eurostar pushes its green credentials with a "Tread Lightly" programme, launched in 2006, and its partnership with Friends of the Earth. It aims to cut its CO2 emissions by 25 per cent by 2012, and said yesterday it had made "good progress" towards that goal in its first year.

The idea of boring a tunnel between France and England was first mooted by Napoleon but the project did not begin in earnest until 1987. Eurostar ran its first test train through the Channel Tunnel in June 1993 and opened for business in November the following year. It now has 27 services from Britain to destinations in France and Belgium.

Well-publicised problems have beset the Channel Tunnel owner Eurotunnel, and Eurostar has faced difficulties of its own. Its complex management structure, covering three countries, can be tricky. It was initially owned by British Rail, the state-owned SNCF in France and its Belgian counterpart SNCB. Following the privatisation of British Rail, Eurostar's UK interests were sold to London & Continental Railways in 1996. Each partner runs the service in its own territory, but in September 1999 the group realised it needed a single management team to grow and established the Eurostar Group.

It also has substantial financial obligations. Nigel Harris, the managing editor of Rail Magazine, said Eurostar was paying "extremely heavy" charges to run its fleet and infrastructure but said it had performed well – particularly since the management shake-up in 2003.

He added: "Eurostar has a good fast, punctual and reliable service. It is a real success. Give people the choice when the journey times are similar and they will take the train every time."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam