Eurostar sees 21% increase in passengers

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Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP

The day when we can take a cheap and fast train from England to Poland took another small step in the right direction today as Eurostar announced that its passenger carryings had increased by 21% since the move of its London terminal from Waterloo to St Pancras. The Guardian reported that,

Eurostar said 2.17 million customers travelled between London, Paris and Brussels in the first three months of the year, an increase of more than 21.3% on the same period in 2007.

Nick Mercer, Eurostar’s commercial director, said the service was benefiting from shorter journey times thanks to the high-speed link and more customers from around Britain due to the location of St Pancras, which is better connected to the UK rail network than the train operator’s former base in Waterloo.

“The passenger increase is coming from shorter journey times, better punctuality and improved connectivity, particularly from the UK regions. We have seen a near doubling of passengers from places such as York and the east Midlands,” he said.

Eurostar is embarking on a joint marketing campaign with Virgin Trains, East Midlands Trains and National Express East Coast this summer and will tour stations in cities including Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham to advertise deals such as £77 for a return trip from Sheffield to Paris, via St Pancras.

Mercer said around half the growth in passenger numbers came from new customers based north of London, with the rest taken from rival ferry operators and airlines.

(Complete article here)

What a pity that plans to run through Eurostar services from Scotland and the Midlands were stifled at birth and while the rest of Europe is rapidly rolling out a network of plus 300 km/hr high speed lines, the UK’s Ministry of Transport is still twiddling its thumbs about building any such lines in the UK and planning to increase capacity at Heathrow Airport for more flights between London and the North.

A note for non-railway buffs. Sir Edward Watkin built a high speed railway from London to Manchester in 1899. The Great Central main line, also known as the London Extension of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway was opened in 1899, it was the last main line railway built in Britain until the first part of High Speed 1 opened in 2003. From the start it was intended to be part of a high speed line to France through the original Channel Tunnel. The line was closed in stages between 1966 and 1969 although much of the formation still remains intact, although with typical British short-sightedness, key sections of the line through towns such as Rugby and Nottingham have been sold to property developers.

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2 Responses to “Eurostar sees 21% increase in passengers”

  1. Michael Dembinski Says:

    Can’t say I’d rather take train from UK to Poland rather than plane – no matter how fast the train was (unless you’re talking maglev and 400mph/600kmph). Door-to-door, London to Warsaw is six hours. Even if a train could do it in twelve, I’d pass. Unless it was thruppence ha’penny return.

    However, high-speed rail in Poland – now that’s a quite different matter!

  2. diana Says:

    ps. and it is the signalling system that restricts the speed of the trains in the tunnel and not the track!

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