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Eurostar - 10 & Still Losing Money

Eurostar at year 10: better, faster but still losing money

PARIS, Nov 12 (AFP) - Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service linking Britain, France and Belgium, marks its 10th year Sunday boasting record performances, but has yet to get on track to profitability.

Despite the gloomy bottom line, the company plans to kick up its heels in public galas at train stations in Paris, Lille, London and Brussels.

But it is keeping under wraps a special celebration planned Monday in London. The festivities had been postponed a week after a deadly British train crash.

For the Eurostar Group, there is cause for celebration this year after notching record passenger numbers, punctuality and market share last month.

But with all its success, the loss-making company is still struggling. It hopes to come close to the break-even point this year after posting a loss of 60 million euros (77.5 million dollars) in 2003, less than half of the 130 million in 2002.

Since its launch on November 14, 1994, the under-Channel rail service has carried about 59 million passengers on rails operated by the French company SNCF, its Belgian counterpart SNCB and British Eurostar UK on their own territories.

Service has mushroomed up to 16 daily trains each way on the London-Paris route and nine between London and Brussels, compared with an original two each way on each route.

The sleek yellow and gray trains arrive more often on time, or early -- 89 percent in the first six months of 2004, compared with 77 percent a year earlier.

They are faster, with the London-Paris trip now taking two hours and 35 minutes and the London-Brussels route to two hours and 15 minutes.

Instrumental in speeding up the service was last year's opening of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link in Britain, allowing Eurostar trains to reach their full speed of 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour and shaving 20 minutes off travel time.

Eurostar says it carries more passengers than all of the airlines combined on the London-Paris and London-Brussels routes, citing Civil Aviation Authority figures for August. Eurostar had a record-busting 68 percent of the London-Paris train/air market and 63 percent of the London-Brussels route.

In October it carried a monthly record of 641,957 passengers.

Over the first 10 months of they year, more than six million people have boarded the trains, 16.2 percent more than a year earlier, fueling hopes the 2000 record of 7.1 million passengers will be smashed.

Like other forms of public transport, Eurostar was dealt a blow by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States. It also has had to cope with the arrival of new air travel competition from low-cost airlines.

Launched with grand visions of some 12 million passengers in the first year, the 766-seat Eurostar trains, however, have only been half filled on average, much less than the French high-speed TGV trains, whose cars are twice as small.

Although the company's books remain mired in red, management is seeing the end of a decade-long tunnel.

Last week Eurostar chairman Guillaume Pepy said the group "should finish 2004 close to the break-even point" and added the goal was to become "profitable from 2007."

Pepy blamed the company's financial troubles on the high cost of fees paid to infrastructure managers, including "exorbitant" tolls demanded by Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel.

Such fees amounted to 60 percent of sales last year, he said.

However, the damage caused by the fees -- originally calculated on overly optimistic traffic projections -- was expected to ease as passenger numbers rise.

And the year 2007 also promises to build up steam for the rail company, with the completion of a second section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link in Britain that will cut the fastest journey time by 15 minutes.
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Yeah, pretty sad. It is indeed mainly due to the very high infrastructure costs for the Channel Tunnel, which makes it impossible for them to compete with low-cost carriers.

Flying on such short distances is redicious, it pollutes enourmously while the train is a great alternative. In my opinion the governments should lower the infrastructure charges for Eurostar to promote rail travel.

But governments nowadays want to get maximised revenue from rail infrastructure.. you'll see the same thing happening at new high speed lines in Europe. But they're still losing money on it. Governments should make up their mind. They should either build no high speed lines, or if they do they should make sure it is used well and you get all enviromental and economical use out of it. Building very expensive infrastructure and then making service almost impossible by charging too much is just stupid.

Just my € 0,02...
I hope it breaks even soon, and expands further out into Europe and northern England. Are there any plans to do so?
Not at this moment. One of the reasons is that Eurostar has very high security requirements. Therefore it needs seperate platforms, so passengers can be security checked before boarding. This makes it very expensive to run to other places, because you need to rebuild the place.

But most importantly: it is already losing money between London and Paris, where lots of people are travelling and Eurostar offers competative journey times. On other relations, there are less travellers and longer journey times --> Eurostar would lose even more money.
Concord gone; Berlin Wall gone (thank God); Eurostar still here. Maybe I'll get a chance to see or ride on one of the three most interesting things in Europe.
Portugal & Spain Mull Lisbon - Madrid HSR

Portugal and Spain mull using high-speed rail link for cargo

LISBON, May 4 (AFP) - Portugal and Spain are looking into using a high speed rail link being built between their two capitals to carry cargo as well as passengers, Portuguese Public Works and Transport Minister Mario Lino said Wednesday.

"This will not affect what is important which is that the transportation of cargo and people be carried out at high speed and take just two hours and 45 minutes," he told reporters following talks with his visiting Spanish counterpart Magdalena Alvarez.

It currently takes more than 10 hours to travel by train between Lisbon and Madrid.

Portugal and Spain agreed at a summit in 2003 to build four high-speed rail links at a cost of 7.5 billion euros (9.7 billion dollars) by 2018.

The first link is to be completed in 2009 and link Oporto, in the industrialized north of Portugal, with Vigo in northern Spain.

The link between Lisbon and Madrid, scheduled to open in 2010 and which would also connect with high-speed rail connections in France and beyond, is expected to carry more than five million passengers each year.

Another line is to connect the central Portuguese coastal town of Aveiro with the Spanish university city of Salamanca, a main corridor for freight, by 2015.

The last of the four lines would link Faro, the capital of Portugal's southernmost Algarve tourist province, to the southern Spanish city of Seville by 2018.

The rail track between Madrid and Lisbon is to allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 350 kilometres an hour (217 miles an hour), while the other tracks would permit speeds of up to 200 kilometres an hour.
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Portugal on the move!!!!

Portuguese map
that map is a litlle bit outdated ^^

the high speed line between madrid and Zaragoza is on service. the track to barcelona is being built as well as the track seville-malaga. the line madrid-valencia ius being built too
Which map?
I cannot see it!
Click on the Portuguese Map link!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Paris - Frankfurt & Stuttgart HSR by 2007

GERMAN PRESS : French-German High Speed Rail Link Starts 07
24 May 2005
FRANKFURT (Dow Jones)--German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DBU.YY) and French state rail company Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF.YY) will start high speed train services between Paris and two German cities in June 2007, Financial Times Deutschland reports Tuesday.

The managers of the two companies signed a statement of intent Monday.

The high speed trains will connect Paris on two routes with Frankfurt and Stuttgart in June 2007, and the transport companies said they expect an increase in passengers by 50% to 1.5 million on these routes.
The ICE and TGV will run rotationally on the track. It is also said that the trains will take just under 4h.
4 hours is not bad considering the flight is 1 hour, and it takes an hour to check-in before the flight plus at least another hour on top of that to get to Charles de Gaulle and getting out of Frankfurt airport afterwards.
hkskyline said:
4 hours is not bad considering the flight is 1 hour, and it takes an hour to check-in before the flight plus at least another hour on top of that to get to Charles de Gaulle and getting out of Frankfurt airport afterwards.
Agreed. 4 hours is pretty good, especially if it's just under.

It still won't be quite as fast as flying, as a flight would take an hour, plus you would have to be at the airport at least an hour before the flight (usually 1.5 hours is better, as it can take 30minutes to get from checkin to your gate) plus the time to get to each airport - although Frankfurt airport is very close to the city. A flight would probably take 3.5hours all up, city center to city center.

The train 45 minutes more, allowing the time to get to your train, but a damn sight less hassle. One can just turn up 10minutes before your train, take your seat and relax in comfort for the rest of the journey.

I've travelled on the current direct train from Frankfurt to Paris, which took about 6 hours - a little too long really. But will certainly use this faster train when it is completed.
Frankfurt-Paris in under 4 hours sounds good.

I think I will do that just for fun!
Isn't 3 hours the notional magic point at which HSR beats flying (not including budget airlines where people put up with the hassle of transfers etc. because they're only paying a couple of pounds/euros :))...? Is there much scope for improvement in the future (i.e. if this is presumably using the new LGV Est, can improved tracks/a straighter route be laid in the German section?)
The slow section is in germany for sure...
Paris-Frankfurt by road is 575 km, so 4 hours, is too long for high speed(144 km/h average speed).

I wonder how long will Paris-Metz(330 km) take. Probably less than 1h30m if it's all in the new (under construction) TGV-Est line.
^ well, if only about 575 km separate the two cities, then, using the same speed as the Madrid-Barcelona high speed rail line, you could get to the two cities in about 2,5 hours.
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