In a bid to enhance efficiency and minimize congestion, Eurostar has implemented an innovative facial verification system at St Pancras International station in London. This cutting-edge technology allows select passengers, specifically those traveling under the Business Premier and Carte Blanche categories, to bypass manual ticket and passport checks conducted by UK officials.
Eurostar's decision to adopt this facial verification system was prompted by the lengthier post-Brexit checks carried out by French border staff, which resulted in prolonged processing times for passengers at the station. By utilizing this advanced technology, Eurostar aims to significantly reduce queues and streamline the entire travel experience.
To take advantage of this revolutionary system, passengers are required to use an app prior to their journey. They simply need to scan their identity document, verify their face, and validate their ticket through the app. This seamless process eliminates the need for manual checks, offering a hassle-free experience for eligible travelers.
Eurostar, as a trailblazer in the UK rail travel industry, plans to extend the availability of this groundbreaking technology to a wider customer base if its success is proven. While Heathrow Airport had initiated a similar project using facial biometric scanners in 2019, the endeavor was unfortunately abandoned due to the unforeseen impact of the coronavirus pandemic on passenger numbers.
The system, dubbed SmartCheck, is currently exclusive to St Pancras International station. However, Eurostar envisions the possibility of implementing it across its extensive network in mainland Europe, thereby revolutionizing the way passengers check in and enhancing efficiency on an even greater scale.
Gwendoline Cazenave, the CEO of Eurostar, expressed her commitment to seeking innovative solutions that boost station capacity and simplify passenger flows. It is important to note that despite the introduction of the facial verification system, security staff will continue to scan passengers' bags, and French border officials will carry out passport checks as usual.
Earlier this year, Eurostar faced the ordeal of leaving numerous seats unoccupied on their London-bound and outbound trains to mitigate long queues at stations. While the situation has improved since then, some services still have a limited number of seats available for sale to ensure a smooth travel experience for all passengers.
Eurostar's implementation of the Smart Facial Verification System marks a significant step forward in the realm of rail travel. By harnessing the power of facial recognition technology, Eurostar aims to provide a more efficient and seamless journey for its valued passengers, setting a new standard of excellence in the industry.