Eurostar, operator of the Channel Tunnel passenger train services, plans to expand its network out of London by adding as many as ten destinations in four European countries – including Switzerland – over the next five years.
Eurostar Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic told the Financial Times on Monday he wanted his company, which currently carries 9.7m passengers a year, to pose a competitive challenge for airlines.
Petrovic said he aimed to use the creeping liberalisation of European rail markets to launch services across western European cities like Geneva, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Cologne, Lyon and Marseille.
“By 2016 and 2017 we would like people when they are thinking about travelling to these cities to consider taking Eurostar rather than flying,” he said.
Swiss travellers who want to go by train to London currently have to board Eurostar in Paris or Brussels, with non-stop trains taking two hours 15 minutes and one hour 51 minutes respectively.
Around 9,000 trains travel the Swiss Federal Railways network every day. 1,000 trains arrive at and depart from major stations daily and heavily used track sections count 500 trains a day.
Federal Railways says that its network has the highest density of traffic in Europe.
Nevertheless, it says that 19 out of 20 passenger trains arrive at their destinations within four minutes of the scheduled time.end of infobox