Channel Tunnel rail operator Eurostar International said it’s evaluating the viability of a possible new route from London to Bordeaux.
France’s sixth-largest urban area may have the potential to join the Eurostar network following the completion of a high-speed link from Tours next year, Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Petrovic said Tuesday in an interview in London.
Should Eurostar opt to go ahead, services to Bordeaux would probably start in 2019 or 2020, after the company’s next new route to Amsterdam that’s slated to commence in late 2017, he said.
“Bordeaux has really turned itself around,” Petrovic said. “It’s a dynamic city.” Direct trains from London would be attractive to Britons with properties in southwest France or visiting the area’s vineyards, the Atlantic coast and Basque region, he said.
While UK travelers can reach Bordeaux by changing trains in France, direct services have a galvanizing effect on demand, the CEO said, citing the example of Eurostar’s six-hour, 1,235-kilometre London-Marseille route.
The year-round link to the French Riviera with stops at Lyon and Avignon began running last May and is going “super well,” Petrovic said, with bookings suggesting that the service is creating its own market of rail-friendly travellers rather than cannibalising airline volumes.
Demand on Eurostar’s core London-Paris route has begun to revive after nosediving in the wake of November’s terrorist attacks on the French capital, and bookings for spring and summer should surpass last year’s levels, he said. Some Asia customers are avoiding France, but the US market has picked up “pretty fast” and Britons have returned.
Dutch trials of Eurostar’s new Siemens e320 expresses - which entered traffic on the Paris route in November - will begin next month. Eurostar plans to operate the Amsterdam service with a batch of seven of the trains.
Eurostar’s passenger tally was unchanged last year at 10.4 million, while underlying operating profit fell 38 per cent to £34 million on adverse currency movements and disruption from illegal migrants.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland