Eurostar sales rise on recovery in business travel

Eurostar train
Image caption Eurostar is overhauling its existing fleet of trains

Eurostar has said a continued recovery in business travel had helped it see a 12% rise in annual revenue.

Ticket sales rose to £760m in 2010 from £675.5m the previous year, the company said.

Passenger numbers also increased by 3% to 9.5 million, compared with 9.2 million in 2009.

The group said more people were choosing to travel beyond Paris and Brussels to destinations in the South of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The company was also affected by the severe weather conditions experienced in the UK and on the continent in December, with thousands of passengers having to queue for hours at stations in London, Paris and Brussels.

A Eurostar spokeswoman told the BBC that in the week before Christmas, the firm ran 80-90% of services but added it also carried a lot of airline passengers who were unable to fly because of disruption at airports.

'Growth potential'

"This uplift [in sales] is due to the continued recovery of the business market that has been a trend through the year as well as growth in the overall number of passengers choosing high-speed rail over plane for short-haul travel in Europe," the company said.

And Eurostar's chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said he saw "considerable potential for growth and expansion".

In October, the group announced an investment programme of £700m, which is due to begin this year and will see the complete overhaul and redesign of its existing fleet, as well as the purchase of 10 new trains.

At the moment Eurostar is the only company that runs passenger train services through the Channel Tunnel, but German train operator Deutsche Bahn has said that it will run direct services from London to Frankfurt and Amsterdam from 2013.

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