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 Eurostar steams ahead

EUROSTAR has announced significant progress in its £700million fleet investment programme. The complete overhaul of the fleet includes the refurbishment of its existing rolling stock and the purchase of ten new trains that will feature interiors by Italian design house Pininfarina. The production of the new

trains began last year and the first of Eurostar’s existing fleet has now gone into refurbish- ment putting the rail operator on schedule to complete the transformation of its entire fleet by 2015. “The redesign and upgrading

of our fleet marks the next phase of our business,” says Nicolas Petrovic, Eurostar chief executive. “With custo- mers increasingly opting for rail over plane for short-haul journeys across Europe, we want to provide an unrivalled travel experience between the

Five minutes with... Alex Armstrong

Global Sales Director, Fcm Travel Solutions

Alex Armstrong joined FCm’s parent company Flight Centre UK in 2000 as the company’s fi rst dedicated business development manager. He contributed signifi cantly to the growth and success of Flight Centre UK’s corporate travel division, and became FCm’s head of UK sales in 2009, before rising to global director of sales in February 2012.

UK and the continent and to encourage more passengers to choose high speed rail as their preferred option.” Eurostar reported passenger numbers that were broadly flat for the third quarter of 2012 but attributes this to the influence of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since the end of the Games, Eurostar has seen growth in

both passenger numbers and sales revenues. “The outlook is strong,"

says Petrovic. "Bookings have bounced back and we are now seeing a return to more typical travel patterns. With the tremendous boost that London has experienced over the summer we are looking forward to capitalising on the city’s post-Olympic glow."


I LOVE Meet and Greet parking is now available at Heathrow Airport following its successful launch at Gatwick Airport earlier this year. Sarah Anglim, the company's managing director, says, "We have seen significant growth in customer numbers, thanks to repeat purchase and customers recommending us to colleagues and friends." Anglim adds: "We know time

is precious to our customers, whether they are travelling to a business meeting or beginning a holiday. We estimate that using meet and greet parking at a busy airport like Heathrow can save up to 45 minutes on a single journey. And and when customers compare the meet and greet price with on-airport long stay options, meet and greet is always cheaper.” The company also offers

valet parking at Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester.


What is your most memorable business travel trip and why? I recently went to Shanghai for a crucial tender presentation. My expectations weren't high and it was a great surprise to find such an amazing modern and culturally diverse city. Oh, and we won the business too!

What is your worst business travel experience and why? I have taken over 26 international flights in the last ten months, meaning a lot of very brief stays in different countries. As I was leaving Argentina, I was stopped by immigration, taken to a private room and interviewed for 30 minutes. They were suspicious of the fact that I had only been in the country for 24 hours! All ended well, but the experience marred what had been an enjoyable trip.

What is your favourite destination worldwide and why? My family and I absolutely love Jackson Hole, in Wyoming, USA. We are keen skiers and there you have the combin- ation of spectacular mountain scenery and amazing wildlife, with Yellowstone national park very close by. There is a fantastic, genuinely old-fashioned cowboy atmosphere.

BUSINESS travellers bound for Europe can now book a cab in advance in 24 cities across 15 countries. Newly-launched Cabforce claims to be the largest European-wide taxi network and allows travellers to pre- book and pre-pay for taxis online or via an iPhone App. Cabforce aims to take the

stress and uncertainty out of European taxi transfers by providing a safe, reliable and trustworthy taxi experience, with no hidden costs. Bookings can be made up to two hours prior to travel,

in English, and be paid for on Cabforce's website or iPhone app. The company provides round-the-clock customer support and guarantees all journeys. Research by the company

has shown that while budget airlines have driven down the price of short-haul flights to Europe, the cost of getting a taxi to and from the airport has steadily risen and can now account for over 40 per cent of the total trip cost. Cabforce uses a network of

certified cab providers with a flat-rate, upfront.

What single thing could be done to improve your business travelling life? Having someone to do all my ironing while I'm travelling so much!

What destination/s would you like to visit next and why? India is top of my list for early next year. FCm has a great presence there and I’d like to understand the business more, as well as experience the culture. I'm also keen to do more travelling in South America after a brief taste of Argentina. Peru is already in my diary as I am booked to attend a conference there next March.


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