Station change boosts Eurostar

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A switch of London terminals helped Channel Tunnel high-speed rail company Eurostar record a big rise in passenger numbers and revenue in the first part of this year, it was announced today.

Eurostar carried 2.17 million passengers in the period January to March 2008 - a 21.3% increase on the first three months of 2007.

Ticket revenues for the company, which moved from Waterloo station to St Pancras in November last year, increased 25.2% to £178.4 million in the first three months of 2008.

The transfer coincided with the completion of the London to Folkestone High Speed 1 (HS1 and formerly the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) which has resulted in faster journey times between London and Paris and London and Brussels.

Eurostar was also helped by the early Easter, the leap year and the Six Nations rugby tournament.

The company also reported today that its punctuality reached a record of 93.6% of trains on time or arriving within 15 minutes of schedule in the January-March 2008 period.

From the regions, the number of travellers using Eurostar for high-speed journeys to mainland Europe has increased substantially since the introduction last November of low-cost through fares from 68 towns and cities across Britain.

In the first three months of services on HS1, the number of travellers from the East Midlands and Yorkshire more than doubled, compared with a year earlier. Demand from counties north of London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Scotland all increased very significantly.

Eurostar has also been helped by the opening of the new Ebbsfleet International station in north Kent.

Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown said: "We are delighted at the public's ever growing desire to travel by Eurostar. It shows that High Speed 1 and our fabulous new stations are capturing people's imagination, combined with the fast, reliable and green advantages of our high-speed trains."