New TGV Est grabs 50% of Paris – Strasbourg air passengers

Image: Strasbourg Multimodal Hub
It’s not an airport; it’s the Strasbourg Multimodal Hub (although its TGV services have not been too kind to the air transport mode). Since TGV services began last summer they have eaten up over 50% of traffic between Strasbourg’s Entheim airport and Paris-Orly (services to Charles de Gaulle where there are comprehensive international connections are down less – 25%).

Logos: tgvLast June high-speed rail (HSR) services began on the new TGV Est line from Paris to Strasbourg. The rail journey time between the two cities fell from over four hours to just two hours 20 minutes with 16 daily return journeys being offered. In 2005 and 2006 this was a route that sustained one million air passengers per year, accounting for around half of Strasbourg’s total airport traffic.

Chart: CHT SXB-PAR 05-07
Source: Strasbourg Airport

Being a predominantly business route traffic is consistent year round except in July and August when the French typically go on vacation. The route is an Air France monopoly with both Orly (ORY) and Charles de Gaulle (CDG) being served. Since last summer Air France has considerably reduced frequencies on ORY (from 71 weekly flights to 48) and downsized its aircraft size on the CDG route.

During the summer holiday season traffic was down only 30% but once businesses returned to work the full impact of the TGV can be seen more clearly. In November traffic to Orly was down 54% to 32,012 while passenger demand to CDG was down less at just 25% to 16,831. Orly is used more for point-to-point traffic and therefore more vulnerable to the TGV’s impact. Traffic on the Strasbourg – Lille route was also down 14% in November, which is a further impact of the TGV.

Eurostar upgraded: Ryanair drops STN-CRL (again)

With the Paris route so critical to Strasbourg Airport the TGV has, in effect, wiped out a quarter of the airport’s traffic resulting in the airport probably expecting no more than 1.5 million passengers in 2008 compared with two million in 2006. At Paris the loss has been less noticeable with Air France using the freed up slots to help launch its own LCC, Transavia France.

The opening of the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras in London last November, and the improved rail routing through Kent, has helped speed up Paris and Brussels rail services. Possibly as a consequence from the beginning of March Ryanair is dropping its London Stansted to Brussels Charleroi services for the second time. St Pancras is on the northern side of London (like Stansted) whereas the previous Eurostar terminal was at Waterloo which is located south of the Thames.

Air traffic between London and Paris, which had been growing at 6% during 2007, fell by 8% in December, the first full month of upgraded Eurostar service, suggesting that the improved link may be taking around 15% of previous air travellers.

Month London – Paris
London – Paris
Aug 374,846 399,433 +6.6%
Sep 391,179 414,151 +5.9%
Oct 403,192 421,134 +4.4%
Nov 369,950 357,884 -3.3%
Dec 366,669 337,859 -7.9%
Source: UK CAA airport data

Madrid-Bacelona – stay of execution?

The much anticipated Ave HSR link between Madrid and Barcelona which was due to be completed at the end of last year has been delayed with no start date announced. Air traffic between these two cities was over 4.5 million in 2006. A TGV-like impact on the route could easily result in over two million passengers (and their associated revenues) being knocked off the passenger numbers of both airports.


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