Eurostar passenger numbers increased by 2% in the first half of 2014 to five million from 4.9 million a year earlier.

Sales revenues for the six months were up by 0.5% to £456 million from £453 million.

But leisure travel demand for the cross-channel high-speed train operator was hit during the second quarter of the year by “the convergence” of the UK’s Easter and May holidays.

Other factors were a drop in demand for holidays in northern Europe and people staying at home to watch the World Cup.

Business passenger bookings were up by 6% on the same six months in 2013.

Chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said: “Whilst a number of factors in the second quarter of the year lead to a dampening in demand, we are now beginning to see a more benign trading environment with encouraging signs of economic stability in France as well as the UK.

“These more favourable conditions have helped deliver strong growth in business travel across our markets.”

Eurostar has carried more than 145 million passengers since 1994.