EUROPE: Announcing preliminary results for 2014 on February 18, Eurostar International Ltd reported sales revenue of £867m, up 1% from £857m the year before or 4% at constant exchange rates. Like-for-like operating profit was up 2% at £55m from £54m the year before, reflecting ‘additional non-cash charges’ made against the value of the existing rolling stock fleet following the decision to purchase seven additional Velaro e320 trainsets from Siemens.

In 2014 Eurostar recorded 10∙4 million passenger-journeys, up 3% from 10∙1 million the year before. This performance was underpinned ‘by the strong recovery in the UK economy which also led to an increase in business travel bookings throughout the year’, said Eurostar, with the number of business travellers up 4% on 2013.

‘Our new e320 trains are now in the final months of testing and on schedule to come into commercial service at the end of this year’, said Eurostar Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic. ‘As we introduce new trains, upgrade our stations and invest in our service, passengers can look forward to a complete transformation of their travel experience’.

Eurostar says that it is investing over £1bn in rolling stock, including £100m to refurbish its current fleet alongside the acquisition of 17 Siemens e320 trainsets.

Petrovic reported that ticket sales for year-round direct services from London to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille, due to start operating on May 1, had ‘got off to a cracking start’. This demonstrated ‘the enduring popularity of the region and the growing appetite among passengers for choosing high-speed rail over plane for travel further into mainland Europe’, he said.