Eurostar stays on track as weak pound causes spike in US travellers and boosts first-half passenger numbers

Rebecca Smith
Business travellers were a key boost for Eurostar - up five per cent in the first six months of the year
Business travellers were a key boost for Eurostar - up five per cent in the first six months of the year (Source: Getty)

Eurostar has been reaping the rewards of the weaker pound as it said today that the number of US travellers using its high-speed service was up by nearly a quarter for the first-half of the year.

The figures

The high-speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe reported sales revenues up six per cent at constant exchange rates to £452.6m, and by 11 per cent at actual exchange rates to £455m, compared to the previous year.

Eurostar said the rise was propelled by a strong business travel market and boost in sales from overseas markets outside Europe. Passenger numbers during the period edged up one per cent to top five million.

The number of travellers from the US and the rest of the world grew by 24 per cent and 18 per cent respectively year-on-year. Eurostar pointed to both the attractions of the destinations and "the advantage of the weaker pound" as a big draw.

The upcoming outlook was also positive, with the company reporting strong bookings for the summer season, and autumn bookings up on last year too.

Why it's interesting

The high-speed rail service said earlier this year that initial signs were positive US travel was on the up, and today delivered those expectations in style. Eurostar welcomed the "resurgence in overseas travellers, especially the US" after "a muted 2016".

The year before was affected by terrorist attacks in Europe, with passenger numbers dropping four per cent to 10m.

Eurostar has also been looking to attract more passengers to opt for train rather than plane, with new developments on board. As well as rolling out Wi-Fi and entertainment streamed to passengers' personal devices, those travelling across the Channel will also be able to try out a virtual reality experience called Odyssey.

Passengers will be provided free headsets and can log onto the train's onboard entertainment system through their smart phones, and will then see the virtual train roof change into a glass ceiling showing underwater surroundings.

What the company said

Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of Eurostar, said:

We have recorded good growth in the first six months of the year with a marked increase in traffic from the US and overseas markets.

This is testament to the enduring popularity of our destinations combined with favourable exchange rates.

The outlook for the second half is promising with a busy summer season and bookings for the autumn up on last year.

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