Eurostar Sees Christmas Rush to London as Pound Lures Parisians

  • Train travel from France to U.K. rose 18% in October holidays
  • Company expects jump in day drippers on winter shopping sprees

Eurostar International Ltd. said the pound’s decline against the euro following Britain’s vote to quit the European Union is stimulating tourist travel to the U.K. and helping to offset a decline in demand for visits to Paris and Brussels following terrorist attacks there.

The number of people traveling from France to the U.K. on Eurostar’s Channel Tunnel express trains jumped 18 percent during October’s school holidays, providing a positive note after a “challenging summer,” the company said in a statement Friday.

“With the weakening of the pound, the U.K. is proving to be an attractive destination,” Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Petrovic said in the release. “The outlook to the end of the year is encouraging, with many travelers taking day trips to London to do their Christmas shopping.”

The pound has declined 15 percent versus the euro this year, with its slide accelerating after the June 23 Brexit vote. While that’s reduced the purchasing power of Britons visiting the continent, it has made travel to London, one of Europe’s pricier cities, more affordable from nations using the single currency.

While third-quarter passenger numbers shrank 10 percent to 2.6 million, they’ve gained 8 percent in the past eight weeks amid “signs of recovery in the trading environment,” Eurostar said. Quarterly revenue slid 8 percent to 184 million pounds ($230 million).

The company will go ahead with the biggest expansion since its foundation in 1994 next year, with the start of services that will link London with Amsterdam in less than four hours via Brussels and Rotterdam.

That’s after Petrovic said last month he’d reduce frequencies on existing routes and eliminate about 80 posts in response to declining demand and as the introduction of 10 longer e320 trains allows Eurostar to maintain capacity levels with fewer departures.

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