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Paris attacks, pound hit Eurostar profits

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 01:42

Eurostar's passenger numbers for 2015 were flat - good news in a year beset by terror attacks in Paris and worries about migrants on the Franco-British border. But ahead of a British referendum on EU membership, the pound has hit profits as well. As Joel Flynn reports, Eurostar will hope their new billion pound trains can turn things around.

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When it comes to crossing the Channel by train, this is the top of the line. The e320 is Eurostar's latest addition to its fleet. It's named after its speed - but its price tag is just as high. Seventeen of these are costing Eurostar a billion pounds. All part of a plan to get the company back on track following a troubled 2015. SOUNDBITE: Reuters Reporter, Joel Flynn, saying (English): "Late last year platforms here were empty, as people worried about the Paris attacks. Eurostar hope that cheap fares as well as these upgraded trains will see passengers getting back onboard." Capacity is now up 15 percent. Eurostar wants to sell more seats - 2015 numbers roughly the same as the year before. But it's currency that's really causing concern for CEO Nicolas Petrovic. SOUNDBITE: Eurostar CEO, Nicolas Petrovic, saying (English): "Last year the pound surged very high, and that hit our profit line. But this year it has come down again. It's very volatile at the moment. People, especially with Brexit, the referendum, coming up, no one knows whether sterling is going to go up or down." Britain's vote on its EU membership is a growing worry - and not just for those travelling from London to Paris. The latest polls suggest more Britons want to leave Europe than stay. That's helped weaken the pound against the dollar and the euro - investors worried Brexit could hit businesses' bottom lines. SOUNDBITE: CEBR Chief Economic Adviser, Vicky Price, saying (English): "It has lead to people moving freely here, having access to the skills that they want to access, having a gateway to Europe from the UK - a lot of that, they fear, may disappear." With euro zone economies struggling, that could hurt Eurostar too. It wont be the only business hoping Europe retains its allure.

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Paris attacks, pound hit Eurostar profits

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 01:42