Eurostar's New Train Routes From London To French Riviera Receive Overwhelming Response
A new Eurostar train service that is going to link London's St Pancras station with Marseille on the French Riviera has drawn huge positive response from travelers, even before the advertising campaign kicks off for the service. The 1,235 kilometer (or 767 mile) long Mediterranean route linking the UK capital with the European mainland that will become operational from May 1, 2015 has already attracted a lot of interest, and suggests that more and more passengers prefer rail travel into Europe over flights.
The route to the French Riviera will be open throughout the year once the service starts. It will offer stops at Lyons and Avignon along the way, for which bookings are buoyant. Eurostar had operated a train to Avignon previously only in the summer. To accommodate the new year-round route, the company is spending a few million Euros upgrading northern France's Lille station, which will support immigration and security clearance for passengers traveling north to London. This upgrade will reduce waiting time to an hour, so that passengers can arrive later for their train at pickup stations like Marseilles.
More rail routes into Europe
The service is an attempt by Eurostar International Ltd. to expand the core routes from London via the Channel Tunnel to Paris and Brussels. The response in the six hour journey from London to Marseille has been much higher than was expected, offering the tourism industry a perspective into what passengers are looking for today.
Eurostar International is also awaiting the delivery of 17 Siemens AG e320 trains in 2015, after which it is looking to link other important destinations with London. In 2016, the service will expand further with additional routes to Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
There will be a number of other indirect routes in France and Germany, linking with SNCF state railway and Deutsche Bahn AG respectively with a change at Brussels. There is also a year-round route between London and Geneva with Lille transfers to Swiss Lyria trains.
The ten existing 900-seat e320 trains that will reach top speeds of 200 miles an hour are part of the company's new fleet since 2010, built at the Siemens factory in Germany's important industrial city Krefeld. Eurostar is also waiting for a batch of 7 more trains to be manufactured this year and used in 2016 and 2017.
The transport company's passenger tally saw a 3% rise in 2014, with 10.4 million passengers using Eurostar services that year. Simultaneously, there was a revenue rise by 1% to 867 million pounds and a rise in operating profits by 2% to 55 million pounds.
UK economy recovery
Eurostar's recent performance may have been buoyed by the UK economy's recovery and a rise in business travelers by 4%. Experts are also optimistic about the French travel market in the coming year, despite the recent sluggishness, a point for the tourism industry to note.
There is some concern about the handling of fire incidents in the 30-mile Channel Tunnel, in the wake of the January, 2015 lorry fire that left thousands of passengers stranded and Eurostar having to pay compensation to passengers. Train operators in the channel currently do not have any legal recourse to claim back such money.
However, there is much optimism about the new Eurostar train services that will push boundaries of long distance train travel, supported by great demands from interested passengers.