Eurostar to expand services to ten European cities

14 May 2012 (Last Updated May 14th, 2012 18:30)

Eurostar is planning to expand its services to a further ten European cities over the next five years.

Eurostar train

Eurostar is planning to expand its services to a further ten European cities over the next five years.

Eurostar currently connects London to Paris and Brussels through the Channel tunnel but it is aiming to run services from its base at St Pancras, London, to cities in the Netherlands, Germany, southern France and Switzerland.

Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic told the Financial Times that the company is planning to use the increasing liberalisation of European rail markets to launch services across western Europe to destinations including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Cologne, Lyon, Marseille and Geneva.

"By 2016 and 2017 we would like people when they are thinking about travelling to these cities to consider taking Eurostar rather than flying," Petrovic said.

Currently the company has an 80% market share between London, Paris and Brussels, and carries 9.7 million passengers every year.

The rail operator is expected to face competition in high-speed services through the Channel tunnel as German rail company Deutsche Bahn is planning to enter the market by the end of 2015.

"The key growth area for us is to take market share off airlines and if more [train] operators come in it will grow the whole market for high-speed rail."

The company is also planning to establish a second hub in Europe with Brussels the most likely city.

French national railway group SNCF owns 55% of Eurostar, while London Continental Railways owns 40% and Belgian national railway operator SNCB holds the remaining 5% stake.

According to the company, the planned expansion is expected to coincide with the delivery of 900-seater passenger trains from Siemens at the end of 2014.


Image: Eurostar currently operates high-speed rail services between London, Paris and Brussels. Photo: courtesy of ClemRutter, Rochester, Kent.