ACCORDING TO figures released on February 7, Thalys high speed services between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany carried a total of 4·98million passengers in 1999, up 5·5% on the previous year. Of this traffic, 53% was carried between Paris and Brussels where high speed rail is now the market leader, with services to Germany and the Netherlands accounting for 17% each.

Turnover in 1999 was up 15% at 219·7m euros, due to better yield management and improvements to on-board services for Confort 1 passengers, including free newspapers and a greater choice of at-seat meals. Business travellers now make up 35% of Thalys passengers. Across the Thalys network, Paris - Amsterdam services experienced the most growth with an increase of 8·5% in passenger numbers.

A total of 5·3million passengers are expected in 2000. A daily Brussels - Genève service is to be introduced for the summer on May 28, and on Saturdays between June 24 and August 28 an Amsterdam - Valence train will run. To serve Expo 2000, a return Paris - Hannover service will run every Saturday from June 1 until October 31. As the high speed network expands, passenger numbers are expected to climb to 10million in 2006 and 12million in 2010.