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Eurostar boss: 'State of the art' fleet set to grow European rail market

By CNN wire staff
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
  • Eurostar CEO Nicolas Petrovic expects the new carriers to be online within the next three to four years
  • Possible destinations for Eurostar include West Germany, Holland and Switzerland
  • Petrovic not fazed by impending competition from Deutsche Bahn in Channel Tunnel

(CNN) -- Eurostar plans to launch a "state of the art" fleet of trains that can carry passengers to the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, according to the company's boss.

Nicolas Petrovic, chief executive of the European high-speed train company, expects the new carriers and routes to be online within the next three to four years, as the rail operator looks to rebuild and make a "fresh start."

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Speaking with CNN's Nina dos Santos, Petrovic said the company would "grab the opportunity of open access in Europe." He added: "What we really want to do is gain market share against the airlines."

The international train operator has built its success by bridging the gap between the UK and Europe, running services from London to Brussels and Paris.

Eurostar to expand across Europe

But after nearly two decades of monopoly over the Channel Tunnel, Eurostar is facing competition for the undersea rail line as German operator Deutsche Bahn prepares to launch a London to Brussels service.

Eurostar profits doubled in 2012

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Petrovic said he is not worried by the prospect of rivalry for the London to Europe routes. He added: "We'll see who the customers prefer but in my view it will grow the overall market."

Eurostar tickets for an adult traveling from London to Paris cost £69 ($104) for standard class to £250 ($378) for business class. Petrovic told CNN that the company was looking "very carefully" at pricing, adding that the biggest cost to Eurostar's business is the levy on using the Channel tunnel.

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In June, the European Commission told Eurotunnel -- the France-based manager of the Channel Tunnel -- to cut its charges for passenger and freight trains using the route.

The Commission claimed the charges were too high and discouraged passengers from traveling by train while hurting the freight industry.

Petrovic said: "We have to pay per passenger a fee which is something like 30 euros...if you sell a ticket at let's say £79 or £69 return, a big chunk of that money is going to the tunnel so the European Commission said numbers should come down.

"If it were the case we could pass on this reduction to the customers," he added.

CNN's Oliver Joy contributed to this report.

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