SOURCE: Rail Europe

July 19, 2005 14:16 ET

Eurostar Sales and Market Share Grow in First Half 2005 as Airlines Hike Fares

WHITE PLAINS, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 19, 2005 -- Rising airfares caused by higher oil prices helped boost passenger numbers, sales revenues and market share for Eurostar, the high-speed train operator linking the UK with France and Belgium in the first half of this year.

Eurostar's passenger numbers overall grew by 8% in the first six months of 2005, to 3.68 million, compared with 3.41 million in the same period last year. Revenue grew by 14%. North American sales of Eurostar tickets by Rail Europe, Eurostar's official distributor, were up 6.6% compared to the same period in 2004, with sales in the month of June alone up 16% as the summer travel season kicked in.

Market share at all-time high

Eurostar's market share reached an all-time high during the first half of the year: on the London-Paris route, Eurostar carried 69% of all air/rail travelers in May 2005, and nearly 63% on the London-Brussels route.

"The convenience of city center-to-city center travel, fast travel times, competitive prices and higher punctuality all make Eurostar very attractive compared to air travel," says Paul Charles, Communications Director of London-based Eurostar. "This is especially true now that our airline competitors have raised prices to cover higher fuel costs."

Punctuality in the first half of 2005, as measured by the percentage of trains arriving within 15 minutes of schedule, was 86%, substantially better than that of airlines operating on Eurostar routes.

"The good news also is that North American travel to Europe and the UK continues to grow, and Eurostar is increasingly seen as the preferred alternative to link London to the Continent," adds Fabrice Morel, President and CEO of Rail Europe Group. "Our June sales figures show that the summer travel season is off to a very strong start with increased sales over the same period last year."

Traveling at speeds up to 186 mph, Eurostar makes the journey London-Paris in an astonishing 2 hrs 35 min, London-Brussels in 2 hrs 15 minutes on the fastest schedules. Travel times will shrink by another 20 minutes in 2007 when the last segment of high-speed track is completed in England. More than 65 million people have ridden Eurostar since the launch of service in 1994. Standard class ticket prices start at $90US/$118 CAD.

For more information visit or contact Rail Europe, Eurostar's official North American representative at or 1-800-EUROSTAR (1-800-387-6782).

Photos: members of the press may download high-resolution photos of Eurostar and other European trains at

Editors' Note:

Market Share Data (compiled from the UK's Civil Aviation Authority and Eurostar data)

London/Paris       May-05     May-04
                   ------     ------
Eurostar           69.37%     64.54%
BA                 10.61%     13.61%
Bmi                 4.20%      4.98%
Air France         12.29%     12.03%
Easyjet             3.45%      4.70%
Other               0.08%      0.13%
TOTAL                100%       100%

London/Brussels    May-05     May-04
                   ------     ------
Eurostar           62.27%     57.04%
BA/SN B            21.57%     23.27%
Bmi                13.28%     17.10%
VLM / VE            2.57%      2.42%
Other               0.31%      0.17%
TOTAL                100%       100%

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