Eurostar: Time flies

EUROSTAR, the firm that operates the trains that link London with Paris and Brussels, has announced record passenger numbers for last year. It carried over 10m people through the channel tunnel for the first time since it opened in 1994, with the market for business travellers particularly strong. (Still, as points out, it has hit this impressive target 15 years later than it originally forecast.)It has also announced that it will buy 10 new 900-seat trains, increasing its capacity by a fifth. This will help it to extend its network. The Financial Times says that it expects Eurostar to start running trains from London to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille next year, with Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany also on its radar. Ryanair, Europe’s second-largest largest airline by passenger numbers, recently stated its desire to woo more business travellers by promising to shed its brash image and be a bit nicer to its customers. It has also, for the first time, allowed its fares to be shown on a price-comparison website. But the spread of high-speed rail from London to the continent could be a serious challenge to its aim. Most business travellers, in Gulliver’s experience, prefer to travel by Eurostar on routes on which its trains operate, such as between London and Paris. (Ryanair does not even fly this route.) The convenience of travelling from city centre to …

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