Eurostar, the high speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe, today reported continuing growth in passenger numbers and sales revenues in 2014. The company, which celebrated its 20th anniversary, last year, unveiled its state of the art new e320 train at St Pancras International station. With the e320 due to enter commercial service at the end of this year, passengers can look forward to an unparalleled level of style, comfort and service.
Last year, passenger numbers rose by 3% to 10.4 million (2013: 10.1 million) bringing the total number of passengers travelling on Eurostar since the start of services in 1994 to over 150 million. 2014 sales revenues increased by 1% to £867 million (2013: £857 million).
This performance was underpinned, in particular, by the strong recovery in the UK economy which also led to an increase in business travel bookings throughout the year. In 2014 the number of Eurostar business travelers increased by 4% compared with 2013.
The business also achieved year-on-year growth in underlying profitability with like-for-like operating profit up 2% in 2014 to £55.0 million (2013: £54.0 million). Following the company’s decision in November 2014 to purchase 7 additional e320s to meet growing demand and provide services to new destinations, the reported operating profit for 2014 reflects additional non-cash charges against the value of the existing fleet.
In total, Eurostar is investing over £1 billion3 in its fleet and its service and will be introducing 17 new trains over the next three years. Carrying 900 passengers, these Eurostar e320 trains will boost capacity per train by 20% and will be capable of a speed of 320 kmh (200 mph).
With the interiors and external livery designed by Pininfarina, the world famous Italian design house renowned for its iconic car designs, the design boasts a range of innovative features which will deliver an outstanding travel experience for customers.
To meet the growing demand for high speed rail services beyond its traditional destinations, on May 1st this year, Eurostar is launching a new all year-round direct service to the South of France stopping in Lyon, Avignon and Marseille.
Since tickets went on sale in mid-December, Eurostar has seen a strong response as passengers are drawn by the wide-ranging gastronomic and cultural attractions of the region. For UK travelers who have a long standing love affair with the South of France, the new service will revolutionize the journey, providing a leisurely, comfortable trip through the French countryside.