Eurostar to quit London’s Waterloo

15th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Nov 15 (AFP) - Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service linking Britain, France and Belgium, said Monday it would quit its base at Waterloo station when a new terminus is completed in north London in 2007.

LONDON, Nov 15 (AFP) - Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service linking Britain, France and Belgium, said Monday it would quit its base at Waterloo station when a new terminus is completed in north London in 2007.

The announcement came as the under-Channel rail service celebrated its 10th year, floating a Eurostar train along the River Thames in central London to commemorate a decade of carrying 59 million passengers.

The festivities had been postponed a week after a deadly British train crash. The planned move from Waterloo, on the south bank of the River Thames, to Saint Pancras station in north London, follows last year's opening of the first half of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link in Britain.

The new link, which will have a dedicated line from Saint Pancras, allows Eurostar trains to reach their full speed of 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour and, when completed, will shave 20 minutes off the journey each way.

One-way times to Paris will come down to two hours 15 minutes, while Brussels will be one hour 53 minutes, avoiding a slow crawl along south London's crowded railways.

There had been speculation that Eurostar might keep its Waterloo operation when the link was completed.

But Paul Charles, Eurostar's director of communications, said: "After conducting extensive research, we have concluded that the benefits of moving the whole of Eurostar's operation to Saint Pancras International substantially outweigh the need to operate a handful of services from Waterloo.

"This move will bring many new passengers for Eurostar from other parts of London and the south-east, the Midlands and Yorkshire and, additionally, benefit domestic commuters using Waterloo."

Eurostar, which is operated by the French company SNCF, its Belgian counterpart SNCB and British Eurostar UK, recently announced record market share and passenger numbers.

It carried just over six million passengers in the 10 months to the end of October 2004, up 16 percent on the corresponding period last year.

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 EUR 60 million (USD 77.5 million) in 2003, less than half of the 130 million in 2002.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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