High-speed train operator Eurostar has reported a 21% increase in passenger numbers for the first three months of this year compared to the previous year.
In total 2.17 million passengers travelled on Eurostar between January and March this year. In the same period ticket revenues rose by 25% to £178 million.
The record numbers follow the switch of Eurostar’s services from Waterloo to St Pancras International and to High Speed 1, the new 186 miles per hour trainline to the Channel Tunnel.
Eurostar said the figures were a result of faster journey times, more connections to towns and cities across the UK, better punctuality and a growing desire to use less environmentally damaging forms of transport. Passenger numbers were also boosted by an early Easter, the leap year and Six Nations rugby tournament, it said.
The train operator achieved record punctuality during the first quarter of its financial year with 94% of trains arriving on time or within 15 minutes of their scheduled time. This compares with 68% during 2007.
The number of passengers travelling from regions in the UK has increased as a result of lower connecting fares to mainland Europe, said the train operator. It reported that the number of travellers from East Midlands and Yorkshire on High Speed 1 more than doubled compared with the previous year.
Meanwhile, the train operator said recent YouGov survey results backed up reports that travellers are starting to consider the environment when taking a journey of 300-400 miles.