Eurostar on schedule for 10% rise in revenue

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The Independent Online

Eurostar, the operator of cross-Channel rail services to Paris and Brussels, expects revenues and passenger numbers to rise by around 10 per cent this year, keeping it on course to break even by 2003.

Eurostar, the operator of cross-Channel rail services to Paris and Brussels, expects revenues and passenger numbers to rise by around 10 per cent this year, keeping it on course to break even by 2003.

Passenger numbers in the first six months of the year rose from 3.46 million to 3.8 million while revenues increased by 9 per cent to £216m, helped by rising levels of business traffic.

David Azéma, Eurostar's chairman, said he expected passenger numbers to reach 7.7 million this year from 7 million in 1999. The group is investing £20m to refurbish its fleet of high-speed trains and improve terminal facilities. A trial enabling passengers to watch films onrented digital video disc players will be launched in September.

The growth in first-half passenger numbers enabled Eurostar to increase its share of the rail-air market between London and Paris to 62 per cent. Its share of the London-Brussels market remained stable at 45 per cent.

The increase in revenues helped Eurostar to cut its losses by around 10 per cent in the six months to the end of June. In 1999, it made estimated operating losses of £100m on revenues of £393m.

Part of the reason for the heavy losses is the £240m in track access charges Eurostar pays to the UK, French and Belgian rail networks and Eurotunnel. Mr Azéma is seeking to renegotiate the charges.

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