Home   Kent   News   Article

Eurostar's Brussels service returning to Ashford in March

Eurostar, which carried a record numbers of passengers last year despite the Channel Tunnel fire, is restoring its Ashford-Brussels service from March 12.

Tickets are already on sale for the service which would have been re-introduced last year had it not been for the fire that restricted services since September 11.

Services between Ashford and Brussels were axed more than a year ago when Brussels services were switched to Ebbsfleet International but passenger growth persuaded the operator of High Speed 1 to bring back one departure and arrival a day.

The high-speed rail operator shone out amid all the latest gloomy news by announcing that 9.1 million travellers - the first time passenger numbers have broken through the nine million barrier - used its services last year, a rise on the previous year of 10.3 per cent.

Towards the end of the year, the falling pound against the euro encouraged more passengers from France and Belgium.

Eurostar declined to give separate figures for Ebbsfleet and Ashford stations - but said they were encouraging and in line with overall growth.

Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown said there had been little impact from the economic downturn in 2008 but he warned the short-term outlook for 2009 was challenging.

He said: "An increase of nearly a million extra passengers using High Speed 1 during its first year of operations, even with the impact of the tunnel fire, demonstrates beyond doubt that people prefer high-speed rail to short-haul air.

"They are switching because rail journeys are faster, more punctual, more convenient, and have less environmental impact.

"Whilst reduced tunnel access will affect the first quarter of 2009, we expect to return to a full timetable in the early spring with journey times restored to 1h 51m to Brussels and 2h 15m to Paris once Eurotunnel completes repairs to the Channel Tunnel.

"The uncertainties of the current economic climate reinforce the importance of good value fares and Eurostar’s UK lead-in fare remains at £59 return for the sixth year in a row."

Ticket revenue of £664million rose by 10.9 per cent. Figures would have been higher but for the Chunnel blaze.

Eurostar said levels of punctuality were better than airline competitors, with 92.4 per cent of trains arriving on time or early compared to 65.4 per cent for airlines on the London-Paris/Brussels routes.

Mr Brown added: "High Speed 1 is fully connected into Europe’s fast expanding high-speed network and we expect to see continuing growth in the number of travellers making longer connecting journeys from towns and cities across the UK to Belgium and France, as well as to destinations in the Netherlands and Germany."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More