Snow does not derail Eurostar

TICKET sales and passenger numbers at Eurostar edged up to a new record last year despite a series of breakdowns which left thousands of passengers stranded in the Channel Tunnel.

Sales at Eurostar reached £675.5m, up 1.7 per cent on 2008, while passenger numbers rose 1.2 per cent to 9.2m.

Eurostar conceded that the economic downturn had hit its business in the first six months of the year but the number of people using the service rose in the second half of 2009.

The company said a falling number of business passengers was offset by a surge in holidaymakers, up 15.6 per cent year-on-year. Passengers travelling between London and Brussels increased by six per cent while the numbers using the Paris route rose by one per cent.

However, Eurostar is expected to be hit with a £10m compensation bill after 2,000 passengers were trapped on the weekend of 18 to 20 December.

The services were suspended for three days after the initial problems which were caused by severe weather.

Eurostar has commissioned an independent review into what went wrong. The findings are expected at the end of January.