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Seamless Travel for Eurostar Passengers

High-speed rail operator, Eurostar, is preparing for the future with the launch of their SmartCheck solution in partnership with Entrust and iProov, supported by ReadID. Eurostar hopes to implement SmartCheck in all its stations, meaning that seamless travel isn't as far away as we think.

Their challenge

International travel is all but seamless in most cases. Not only at airports but also for any maritime, land or rail border crossings. For Eurostar, connecting London, UK with continental Europe by rail, extensive checks are needed. 

Eurostar passport control waiting time

 The future of travel should be different, however. Travellers expect a seamless, even touchless experience, with limited contact points but retention of high security. Eurostar launched its SmartCheck biometric gate system in St Pancras in 2023 after a successful pilot in 2021.

The solution, SmartCheck

The solution, called SmartCheck, was tested at the end of 2021, running into 2022, and launched in the summer of 2023. SmartCheck enables passengers to complete secure ticket verification and a UK Border exit check on their mobile devices prior to travel. As a core component of the pilot, ReadID’s identity document verification solution allows Business Premier and Carte Blanche ticket holders to verify their identity documentation using their smartphone and their passport before arriving at the station, completing a brief biometric face scan to verify that they are the genuine holder of that identity document. The face image is taken directly from the chip in the document in its original, full-colour state, without watermarks. The biometric face verification is then linked to their e-ticket, with confirmation sent to the passenger.

Architecture of Eurostar SmartCheck

Figure: the architecture of the SmartCheck solution (source: Entrust/Worldreach)

On arrival at St Pancras International Station, passengers proceed through a dedicated SmartCheck lane. A brief automated photo and facial recognition process at the ticket gate verifies that the customer has completed their ticket check with no sharing of paper or electronic tickets required. A second face recognition process at the UK Border Exit Check allows Eurostar to verify that the passenger has completed their passport information, again replacing the need for travellers to hand over documentation.

Eurostar collaborated with iProov for face verification Inverid’s travel industry partner Entrust, and Inverid’s ReadID technology to read and verify the identity documents.

The result

Eurostar Chief Executive Gwendoline Cazenave cited at the launch of SmartCheck in St Pancras in 2023 that “This innovation will enhance our customer departure journey, which is crucial to provide Eurostar’s unique travel experience.” The solution will be evaluated in the autumn of 2023 before Eurostar decides if they will implement SmartCheck in their other stations, aiming to eventually provide a seamless departure flow across their whole rail network for all passenger classes.

"This innovation will enhance our customer departure journey, which is crucial to provide Eurostar's unique travel experience." - Eurostar Chief Executive Gwendoline Cazenave

Cases such as the Eurostar SmartCheck solution show that it is entirely possible to use mobile self-service technology and processes in secure and seamless travel using existing technology. Increased automation for the majority of travellers, especially when it provides intelligence information in advance of travel, allows border control officers the ability to focus on higher-risk individuals. Likewise, carriers and port/terminal operators such as Eurostar can focus their customer service efforts on providing assistance to the small minority of passengers for whom automation is not the best solution. 

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