Some Eurostar passengers passing through London’s St. Pancras International Station will now be able to use a facial verification system instead of manual ticket and passport checks.
The new technology, called SmartCheck, aims to reduce passport and ticket check lines at St. Pancras and is currently being tested for Business Premier and Carte Blanche customers. Eurostar hopes to roll out the technology for more customers if early trials prove successful.
Eligible passengers are directed to use an app before traveling to scan their travel documents and verify their face and ticket. Once at the station, they can use special screens to scan their face before proceeding through check-in.
While SmartCheck will be used to verify passports and tickets, baggage will still be scanned by the security staff. Border officials at your destination will also continue to check passports for now.
“SmartCheck in St Pancras International station is a solution for a faster and seamless check-in experience,” Eurostar CEO Gwendoline Cazenave said. “By introducing SmartCheck, we become the first rail travel operator to adopt biometric face verification. This innovation will enhance our customer departure journey, which is crucial to provide Eurostar’s unique travel experience.”
Regular Eurostar travelers will no doubt embrace the efforts to speed up the check-in process at St. Pancras; the station has seen check-in times increase after French border officials introduced additional checks post-Brexit.
While Eurostar is the first rail operator to utilize facial recognition in this way, it’s not the first time that the technology has been used within the travel sector in the U.K. London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) began testing facial biometric scanners in 2019, before dropping the project when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.