Fewer passengers riding Eurostar railway due to attacks in Paris, Brussels

A Eurostar train arriving at Roosendaal station in Roosendaal, on April 28, 2016.
A Eurostar train arriving at Roosendaal station in Roosendaal, on April 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The number of passengers using the high-speed Eurostar rail link slumped following terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, with United States and Asian travellers particuarly shunning the service, the company said on Friday (May 20).

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

Sales fell 6 per cent to 201 million pounds (S$404 million) in the first three months of 2016 compared with 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 3 per cent overall to 2.2 million in the "challenging" quarter.

The March 22 Brussels airport and metro attacks that 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.