Eurostar has launched a face-scan check-in system at London’s St Pancras train station so that passengers departing from London can avoid manual checks of tickets and passports by UK officials. The innovative system called SmartCheck is supported by the iProov.me mobile app, which aims to streamline travel formalities and minimize potential delays associated with international travel. The system is currently open to Business Premier passengers and Carte Blanche holders.
Passengers scan their face and passport through the app and when they arrive at the station they need only go to a dedicated lane designed for them, without having to go through any border checks in the UK, though they still have to go through baggage control. Passport control by French border officers in London remains the same.
We become the first rail travel operator to adopt biometric facial verification.Gwendoline Cazenave, CEO of Eurostar Group
In the past, Eurostar had to limit the number of passengers on each train to five percent below its total capacity (the largest trains hold 900 passengers) to ensure a punctual departure. The company could not sell more than 250 seats per train due to the time it takes to go through passport control, especially on the French side of the border, which is inside St Pancras station.
“By introducing SmartCheck, we become the first rail travel operator to adopt biometric facial verification,” said Gwendoline Cazenave, CEO of Eurostar Group. “This system avoids potential delays at checkpoints, such as the exhaustive review of passport details by border agents to ensure compliance.
The beginnings of this system date back to 2016, when Andrew Bud, founder and CEO of Waterloo-based iProov, initiated discussions with Eurostar. The system was tested between last December and April, ensuring its effectiveness. Bud also noted that the system can simultaneously scan up to four people and is expected to be used by hundreds of passengers daily to streamline the flow at the station.
“By creating a biometric corridor, we are moving security checks away from the station,” said Bud. “We’re saving precious time and space at the border, streamlining the boarding process to one that’s far faster, more convenient, less crowded and stressful, yet even more secure.”
How to use SmartCheck
- Install the SmartCheck enroller app iProov.me
- Put in details when prompted
- Link tickets in the app
- 24 hours before departure, confirm traveling plans in the app
Eurostar has stated that a rollout of facial recognition check-in systems in other stations, such as Bruxelles-Midi, is “currently not on the agenda,” as reported by the Brussels Times. The app cannot be used by children under the age of 16 for data protection reasons. The app works by storing a passenger’s travel data on their phone, rather than in a Eurostar database.