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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 07:14 GMT
Eurostar 'upbeat' about year ahead
Eurostar Train
Eurostar has seen its market share increase in 2004
Cross-channel rail passenger service Eurostar saw an increase in passengers to Paris and Brussels in the last part of the year, the company has said.

The company said it was its best fourth quarter to date.

Eurostar said it carried 1.69 million passengers through the Channel Tunnel between October and December 2003.

This was an increase of 15% on the same period in 2002 when 1.47 million people travelled, and follows the opening of a new high-speed rail track to London.

Increased sales

The firm, celebrating its tenth year in 2004, said passengers have been switching to its services since the link opened in September 2003, improving journey times.

It said latest figures show Eurostar has a 66% share of the London-Paris route, compared to 13% for British Airways.

And traffic on the London-Brussels route increased from 41% share in November 2002, to 48% at the same time in 2003.

Sales in the fourth quarter increased by 11% to 98 million, compared with 88 million in the same period in 2002.

Business check-in

Paul Charles, Eurostar's director of communications, said: "There has been a successful rebirth of Eurostar.

"Although 2003 started off with a bleak outlook and low consumer confidence, a mix of the new high speed line, a fresh management and a refocused strategy has enabled Eurostar to begin 2004 in upbeat mood."

The company said it would be introducing a new 10 minute check-in for business travellers from 20 January.

The 30-minute check-in remains for those travelling on leisure tickets.

When the final stage of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is completed in 2006, journey times from London to Brussels will come down to two hours.

And the journey from London and Paris, will be reduced by 15 minutes from its current 2 hours and 35 minutes.

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