Eurostar turns 10 with cake, without profits

15th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 14 (AFP) - Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service linking Britain, France and Belgium, marked its 10th year Sunday with balloons flying and free cake for passengers but with still no profitability.

PARIS, Nov 14 (AFP) - Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service linking Britain, France and Belgium, marked its 10th year Sunday with balloons flying and free cake for passengers but with still no profitability.

Cake was handed to passengers at Lille in northern France and balloons decorated the station there, but otherwise Eurostar celebrations were relatively low-key.

For the Eurostar Group, there is cause for celebration this year after notching record passenger numbers, punctuality and market share last month.

But with all its success, the loss-making company is still struggling. It hopes to come close to 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.

At the Gare du Nord station in Paris, the head of the Paris tourist office Paul Roll and Eurostar operations director Jacques Damas cut a huge cake shaped like a locomotive in Eurostar's yellow, blue and white colours, with 10 large candles.

In Brussels a top Eurostar official presided over a ceremonial birthday cake-cutting at the city's Gare du Midi station, where British passengers pour off the train after two and a half hours from London, while Parisians are under 90 minutes away.

A spokesman said the London-Brussels route is being increasingly used by cross-Channel commuters who live in one country and work in another, notably eurocrats working for the EU institutions in the Belgian capital.

By 2007 the Brussels-London trip is due to be cut to one hour and 53 minutes. "That journey time will lead to a lot more commuting, I've no doubt about it," said Eurostar spokesman Paul Charles.

No celebrations were planned in London as mark of respect following a train accident at a level crossing in Britain causing seven deaths.

Since its launch on November 14, 1994, the under-Channel rail service has carried about 59 million passengers on rails operated by the French company SNCF, its Belgian counterpart SNCB and British Eurostar UK on their own territories.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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