Belfast Telegraph

Eurostar sees 3% drop in passenger numbers

High-speed rail operator Eurostar posted a fall in passenger numbers as travellers "remain cautious" in the wake of the recent Brussels terror attacks.

The Channel Tunnel service said passenger numbers slipped 3% to 2.2 million in the three months to the end of March compared to a year ago, while sales fell 6% to £201 million in the same period.

The operator said: "Travellers remain cautious following the terrorist attacks in Brussels and demand is dampened.

"The impact has been particularly evident in international markets with Eurostar reporting a slowdown in travellers from the US and Asia."

The impact of this week's EgyptAir plane crash may further weaken the appetite for international travel. The attacks on the Brussels metro and airport came in March.

However, Eurostar said it had seen a recent surge in ticket sales ahead of the Euro 2016 football tournament, with the opening day of the competition - June 10 - proving to be the busiest day as the hosts France take on Romania in the Stade de France in Paris.

Chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said: "We have seen an unprecedented demand from football supporters keen to get to the Euros by train.

"With our city-centre to city-centre services and a brand new state-of-the art fleet of trains, we are ideally placed to carry fans from the UK direct to the heart of the action in France."

The operator added that it tested its new state-of-the-art e320 trains on the Dutch network last month in preparation for its London and Amsterdam route, expected to launch at the end of next year.

The firm said the four-hour city-centre to city-centre service will offer "a comfortable and convenient alternative" to airline travel.