Eurostar trials touchless biometric identification system using facial recognition

Continental rail operator Eurostar is trialling a new biometric identity verification technology that promises seamless travel across borders, TravelMole is reporting.

Created by identity, payments and data protection developer Entrust, the system allows travellers to register their face and passport ahead of travel for a touch-free journey through border checks.

Once at St Pancras or other Eurostar hubs, passengers will have their face scanned in order to board trains and move through passport control.

It means that holidaymakers no longer need to show passports, boarding passes and other travel documents at every stage of their journey, enabling them to move much more quickly through train stations and airports and reduce contact with staff and security.

Touch-free solutions for passport and border control are increasingly sought-after as the travel industry rebalances from the effects of the pandemic, and rail and air operators seek to reassure travellers of a Covid-safe journey.

The vice president of the Americas for the World Travel and Tourism Council, Helena Bononi, praised the technology, saying it would be “central both in aiding a swift recovery and defining a new normal for the industry”.

“This important initiative enables mobility and increases safety and security, while always putting the passenger at the center,” she added.

“We are confident that the Seamless Travel Solution will help launch the world into a new era of travel, allowing travelers to feel safer and experience less hassle, while also enabling operational efficiency to both border agencies and the entire travel industry through digital transformation,” said Gordon Wilson, Vice President Identity Verification at Entrust.

Responding to concerns about data protection, the tech developer insists that the Seamless Travel Solution follows all GDPR regulations and encrypts all data while users are in transit.

The rise of facial recognition technology in travel raises questions about system outages causing delays, however.

Heathrow airport has had several incidents where e-gate systems failed this year, causing hours-long queues for travellers.

The Independent has contacted Eurostar for comment.

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