Eurostar carries record 2.8m passengers despite Calais strikes

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Eurostar

Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar said it notched up record passenger numbers despite disruption from last month’s strikes in Calais.

The group said it carried 2.8m passengers between the UK and the continent in the three months to the end of June – the highest ever in one quarter.

Its record performance came in spite of the Channel Tunnel and ferry disruption seen late last month, when striking Calais ferry workers closed the French port and blocked Eurotunnel rail services.

Two strikes took place at the end of June, leaving thousands of cross-Channel passengers and lorries stranded, while migrants also took advantage of the chaos to try to board UK-bound lorries stuck on the French side of the Channel.

A spokesman for the group said it was a “frustrating situation”, adding that the firm was in close contact with authorities to make sure it can “respond very quickly” in future.

Eurostar said a boost from business travellers and strong take-up of its new south of France service drove the record number of passengers, which marked a 3% rise year-on-year.

The group saw Business Premier passenger numbers leap 10% higher in the three months, with an increase reported on both sides of the channel.

It has already sold more than 88,000 tickets for its new south of France service, which was launched on May 1 and stops at Lyon, Avignon and Marseille.

It has already increased the service from three times a week to five.

Second quarter revenues rose by 1.5% to £232m after the buoyant demand, according to Eurostar.

But despite the second quarter boost, Eurostar said half-year revenues overall were 2% lower after a hit in the first three months by a lorry fire that closed the Channel Tunnel, and Paris terrorist attacks in January.

Large movements in foreign exchange rates also had an impact on sales and the group said with this stripped out, half year revenues were 4% higher.

The group added that its new fleet of trains are in the final stage of testing, ready to come in to service at the end of the year.

The e320 trains will be able to carry more passengers and boast a new interior design created by Italy’s Pininfarina, as well as wifi connectivity and advanced passenger information services.

Eurostar is also refurbishing some of its existing fleet, the first of which will be ready for service in the coming weeks.

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