Fewer passengers ride Eurostar over terror fears

The number of passengers using the high-speed Eurostar rail link slumped following terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, with US and Asian travellers in particular shunning the service, the company said on Friday.

Fewer passengers ride Eurostar over terror fears
Photo: Niklas Hallen/AFP

But it voiced optimism that the Euro 2016 football tournament in France starting next month would drive a recovery.

Sales fell 6 percent to 201 million pounds ($293 million, 261 million euros) in the first three months of 2016 compared to the same quarter last year as the Paris and Brussels attacks hit tourist travel.

“Travellers remain cautions following the terrorist attacks in Brussels,” said Eurostar in a statement, adding the number of passengers slid three percent overall to 2.2 million in the “challenging” quarter. The March 22nd Brussels airport and metro attacks which killed 32 people are believed to be the work of jihadists closely linked to the cell which carried out the November Paris massacres in which 130 people died.

“The impact has been particularly evident in international markets with Eurostar reporting a slowdown in travellers from the US and Asia,” said the statement.

However, the company was optimistic about the Euro 2016 football championship that kicks off next month, saying it had seen in recent weeks a “surge” in bookings and expects half a million Britons to travel to the tournament.

“We have seen an unprecedented demand from football supporters keen to get to the Euros by train,” said chief executive Nicolas Petrovic in the statement.