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Eurostar passenger numbers jump a record 22 per cent

The pandemic saw a drop in those travelling on the rails between the UK and France  (Gareth Fuller/PA)
The pandemic saw a drop in those travelling on the rails between the UK and France (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Eurostar said its passenger numbers increased by more than a fifth last year.

The rail operator said it carried 18.6 million passengers in 2023.

That’s a rise of 22 per cent on the previous 12 months and is a return to levels last seen in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.

Eurostar operates direct and indirect routes between the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

The year-on-year increases on Eurostar’s three main routes serving London St Pancras were Amsterdam (up 38 per cent), Brussels (up 33 per cent) and Paris (up 25 per cent).

Eurostar chief executive Gwendoline Cazenave said: “Eurostar is growing and in 2023 we welcomed many more customers on board across our five countries.

“Our goal is to encourage more people to take the train so it’s a win for customers and a win for the planet.

“We have a bold vision to reach 30 million passengers by 2030, and growth in 2023 of 22 per cent versus 2022 shows we are strongly on our way.

“We carried almost eight million passengers between London and France, 1.1 million between the Netherlands and the UK, and 2.2 million to Belgium.”

The operator expects to carry nearly two million passengers to Paris during this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Eurostar may soon face competition after holding a monopoly for rail travel between London and Paris for three decades, according to an internal rail expert

Mark Smith believes the introduction of a rival “keeps everyone on their toes” and would see cuts in fares, telling The Independent: “I’ll believe it when I see it, but this time it may well happen.”

Mr Smith, founder of the rail website Seat61.com, was responding to news that a company named Evolyn has agreed to buy a dozen trains to use between the British and French capitals from 2025 onwards.