Eurostar traffic fell 20% during the first quarter of the year as the impacts of the coronavirus crisis took their toll on high-speed rail operations.
Passenger numbers declined from 2.4 million during Q1 2019 to 1.9 million during the three months to 31 March 2020 according to Eurotunnel parent Getlink.
The group said strikes by French SNCF rail staff impacted services early in the year, before travel restrictions imposed by British, French and Belgian authorities in response to Covid-19 further depressed journeys.
Getlink’s total Q1 revenue is down 9% year-on-year to €233 million, as is Shuttle revenue to €133.6 million following a 70% decline in car traffic.
Total railway network revenue, meanwhile, has fallen 8% to €66.6 million, which Getlink said was due to the "strong decrease" in Eurostar roundtrips.
The group has abandoned its 2020 earnings forecast and cancelled its 2019 dividend payment proposal, but remains insistent it can be a "driving force" in the post-coronavirus economic recovery.
"Getlink is awaiting the decisions to come from various governments in order to be able to communicate later on a revised 2020 Ebitda [earnings] target," said the group in its Q1 results statement on Thursday (23 April).
It added: "The group believes it can be a driving force in any planned economic recovery, particularly regarding any potential environmental components."
Jacques Gounon, group chair and chief executive, said: "Travel restrictions linked to the current health crisis have affected the group’s traffic and revenue in similar proportions to comparable modes of transport.
"In the coming weeks, the group will build on its key strength linked to the supply of essential products to the United Kingdom and France.
"Having reacted immediately by implementing protective measures and reducing costs, the group is ready to meet the expectations of its customers following the ending of lockdown."
Across Eurotunnel operations, Getlink has introduced new social distancing and sanitary measures; furloughed staff in the UK and France; postponed projects; and introduced traffic management with new health and comfort measures, including a voluntary reduction in capacity onboard truck shuttles.