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Eurostar traveller numbers rise by over 21%

05/09/2008 AT 07:58

Ticket revenues increased by 25.2% to £178.4 million during the first full three-month period of carbon neutral journeys on High Speed 1, the new 186mph line between St Pancras International and the Channel Tunnel.

The record traveller numbers and revenues follow Eurostar's highly successful, overnight move of services to St Pancras International and High Speed 1 last November. Factors driving up demand include faster journey times, more connections to towns and cities across Britain, even better punctuality and the public's growing desire to switch to less environmentally damaging forms of transport. An early Easter, the leap year and Six Nations rugby tournament also gave an extra boost to the traveller and revenue figures.

Operating with new stations, a new railway and new depot, Eurostar achieved record punctuality of 93.6% of trains on time or within 15 minutes of schedule during the first quarter, even higher than the figure for 2007. Eurostar's on-time performance compares with an average of 68% during 2007 – the latest available data - for the airlines competing on its routes.

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.

An independent YouGov survey suggests that society's views about how they travel are shifting. More than half the UK public (57%) now has concerns about environmental impact when planning a journey of 300 – 400 miles. A third (33%) say that environmental concerns about a short-haul journey are more or much more important to them than a year ago, compared to just 3% who say environmental concerns are less or much less important than before.

The survey also signals that people are starting to act, and expecting others to do so. One in twenty (5%) says that over the next year or so, environmental concerns mean they are planning to switch from plane to train for journeys within the UK or to closer European destinations.

More than a third (37%) agree or strongly agree that in a few years' time, environmental concerns will have made short-haul flying socially unacceptable where there is an alternative of going by train.

A quarter (25%) of the UK public says that, having heard about the Tread Lightly initiative, they are now more likely to use Eurostar. Over the last 12 months, Eurostar has:
- Become the first train operator in the world to make all journeys carbon neutral, at no extra cost to travellers (from 14 Nov 2007)
- Purchased over 40,000 high-quality carbon dioxide (CO2) offset credits from renewable energy projects in China and India
- Installed a less environmentally damaging refrigerant on most of the train fleet, seven years before the EU deadline
- Procured energy from lower carbon sources for the new UK head office, Temple Mills depot and Ashford International car park
- Introduced a waste management facility at Temple Mills, helping to maximise the amount of waste that is recycled or sent to an energy recovery plant, and ensuring that close to zero goes to landfill

Eurostar now actively monitors actual train energy consumption using on-board metering equipment. This has established that actual train energy consumption is less than projected. Eurostar is therefore recalculating a new, lower baseline against which to report progress in reducing its CO2 emissions per traveller journey.

Richard Brown, chief executive, Eurostar, 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.

“I am pleased that we are making progress on our Tread Lightly initiative. As I said a year ago, we don't have all the answers, but we are chipping away at reducing our environmental impact and we will keep at it, right across the business. What's great is that both our staff and our travellers are ‘doing their bit' and making a difference. We all have a duty to act.”

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Ticket sales rise to £148.5 million

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More than one million passengers book to travel

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