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Eurostar passenger numbers reach new record

THE number of passengers carried on Eurostar last year hit a new record of 11 million, which was a rise of 7 per cent compared with 2017. Revenue from sales was up by 12 per cent to £989 million – £109 million higher than in 2017, and the unaudited profit is £96.6 million.

The cross-channel service will celebrate its 25th anniversary in November.

The business market grew by 12 per cent, while Eurostar said higher leisure travel figures were partly due to its new London-Amsterdam services, which began in April 2018. These have already carried more than 250,000 passengers, and a third daily service will be added on the Netherlands route in June this year.

The number of passengers from the USA travelling between London and Eurostar’s continental destinations also rose, by 9 per cent.

Eurostar chief executive Mike Cooper said: ’Over the last 25 years Eurostar has led the way in cross-Channel travel, cementing the links between the UK and mainland Europe. The popularity of our new service between London and Amsterdam shows the growing appetite among customers for international high-speed rail travel and a sustainable alternative to the airlines.’

As with many international businesses Brexit is posing some uncertainties for Eurostar, particularly as the future of the customs union is in doubt. At the moment departing travellers go through a double check at the start of their journeys, with French immigration officers working at St Pancras International and British Border Force personnel on duty in Paris and Brussels.

This arrangement may have to end if there is no customs union, and Eurostar had previously warned that ‘there are no benefits or growth opportunity that we could identify from leaving the EU. Our fixed costs are already very high, and in many instances the business case is marginal.

‘Any additional cost, small as it might seem, would only add to these costs and risks either raising prices for passengers or, if the market cannot bear such increases, making the operation unsustainable in its present form.’

However, following the release of the latest figures, the operator has been sounding a more upbeat note.

A spokesman said: ‘We expect to maintain services on the existing basis, timetable and terms and conditions following Brexit.

‘We have been working extensively with our station partners, governments and control authorities on both sides of the Channel to ensure that robust plans are in place to protect services and to manage customer flows effectively in either a deal or no-deal scenario.’

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