Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 11:49 UK

Business travel falls at Eurostar

Eurostar train
Eurostar has seen a big fall in business class passengers

Eurostar has reported a 6% fall in passenger numbers, caused by a big decline in business class customers.

The high-speed Channel Tunnel train service carried 4.34 million people in the first half of 2009, compared with 4.63 million a year earlier.

While sales of business class tickets dropped "around 20%", sales of standard tickets increased by 4%.

Eurostar said it remained "optimistic" about trading conditions, and was continuing work to trim costs.

The firm's passenger numbers for the first quarter of the year were also hit by a slightly reduced service following September's fire on a train in the Channel Tunnel.

Strong euro

"The fact is that some of our biggest business clients are from the financial and banking sectors, and it follows that as they tighten their travel budgets, we, like the airlines, feel the effects," said Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown.

"Despite market conditions, we still have good reason to be optimistic. We are benefiting from the strong euro and seeing substantial increases in travellers from Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, which is also helping the UK economy."

Eurostar operates the passenger train services linking London to Paris and Brussels.

It is a separate company to Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel. Eurostar pays Eurotunnel a levy per passenger.

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