Eurostar is hoping for a positive boost from the Euro 2016 football tournament and a new London-Amsterdam service after reporting a ‘challenging’ first quarter.

The high-speed rail operator reported a 3% year-on-year reduction in passengers to 2.2 million in its most recent quarter, with sales revenues down 6% year-on-year to £201 million.

International markets were hit particularly hard with a slump in the number of travellers from the US and Asia.

Eurostar has been severely affected by terrorist attacks on its key destinations of Paris and Brussels.

Despite the disappointing results, the operator said it had seen a surge in tickets sales to Euro 2016 host cities including Lille, Paris, Lyon and Marseille, with nearly half a million passengers scheduled to travel from the UK during the tournament.

It also said plans for the launch of its new route between London and Amsterdam at the end of 2017 were on track with its new e320 trains tested on the Dutch network for the first time last month.

Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive, said: “The start of testing for the e320 on the Dutch network marks a major milestone in the run-up to the launch our new service.

“With over three million passengers travelling by air between London and Amsterdam, this new route is key to our growth plans. Our fast, comfortable, point-to-point service is set to transform travel between these important financial and tourist hubs.”