CHANNEL Tunnel high-speed rail company Eurostar made a profit of nearly £21 million last year despite a dip in the number of business travellers, it was announced today.
The company's preliminary, unaudited net profit for 2011 was £20.8 million in a year when business traveller numbers fell 3pc compared with 2010.
In October-December 2011, business travel numbers were down 5pc compared with the same period of 2010.
The company, which runs services from London to Brussels and Paris, saw overall passenger levels rise 2pc to 9.7 million in 2011.
Sales revenue was up 6pc to £803 million, with particularly strong growth in the second half of the year.
Leisure travellers grew by 2pc, with big numbers in the last three months of the year partly offsetting the downturn in business travel.
Passengers from outside the EU grew 20pc last year and now account for 9pc of Eurostar travellers.
Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said: "Eurostar continues to make good progress against a difficult economic backdrop and ongoing uncertainty across Europe.
"Over the last year we have invested in upgrading our service and product and this has resulted in strong growth in sales revenues and passenger numbers.
"Having completed our first financial year as a standalone business and delivered a strong performance we are now well positioned to build on this momentum."