By Mike Rowbottom

EurostarOctober 20 - Eurostar saw revenues drop five per cent over the summer despite carrying 31,000 more passengers during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, for which it was an official sponsor.

The high-speed rail operator said passenger numbers were up four per cent during the Games compared with 2011 but the number of leisure travellers coming from the continent to London in July was lower than last year.

The business market was similarly impacted as companies advised their employees to steer clear of the capital in the run-up to the Olympics, it said.

These factors, combined with the movement in the Sterling-Euro exchange rate over recent months, resulted in sales revenues for the third quarter falling from £197 million ($316 million/€244 million) in 2011 to £188 million ($302 million/€231 million) this year.

However, since the end of the Games, Eurostar has seen a growth in passenger numbers and sales revenues, signalling a positive outlook for the fourth quarter.

Overall for the year to date, passenger numbers are up from 7.3 million to 7.4 million with sales revenues down one per cent to £612 million ($982 million/€752 million).

Chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said: "Whilst many corporate clients and business customers decided to steer clear of London during the Games, we nonetheless delivered a solid performance.

"Looking ahead to the end of the year, the outlook is strong.

"Bookings have bounced back and we are now seeing a return to more typical travel patterns.

Bieke Ketelbuters_of_Belgium_arrives_by_Eurostar_at_St_Pancras_International_station_for_the_London_2012_Paralympic_GamesEurostar was used by many European athletes during the London 2012 Games including the Belgium Paralympic team

"With the tremendous boost that London has experienced over the summer we are looking forward to capitalising on the city's post-Olympic glow."

Eurostar is in the process of upgrading its fleet at a cost of £700 million ($1.1 billion/€861 million), which will include 10 new e320 trains.

The process is due for completion by 2015.

This winter, it will begin a new weekly service between London and some of Switzerland's most popular ski resorts with the international high-speed train service, TGV Lyria.

The new service will travel from St Pancras and Ashford International to the heart of the Swiss Alps and the Valais region.

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