Eurostar may limit the number of passengers travelling from St Pancras every day under post-Brexit plans to bring in biometric border controls this year.
Such comments have been made by HS1, the owner and operator of the line and stations between London and the Channel Tunnel.
According to a report from the Guardia, HS1 has expressed concerns that planning for new Entry/Exit System (EES) controls at the London rail station are severely inadequate and would lead to long delays and potential capping of services as well as passenger numbers.
The Entry/Exit System (EES) is a scheme that will be established by the European Union. The scheme will register entry and exit data of non-EU nationals crossing the external border of the EU countries as part of efforts to strengthen and protect the external borders of the Schengen Area and also increase the security of EU citizens.
It will replace the stamping of passports for UK travellers and require passengers to enter personal information and other details about their trip instead.
The implementation is expected to happen in October 2024; however, after the infrastructure was not ready, the finalisation of this process was postponed several times.
The French government said that only 24 EES kiosks had been allocated, even though calculations indicate that about 50 would be required during busy periods.
We are told that the proposed kiosks are ‘optional’ as the process can be delivered at the border, but without about 49 additional kiosks located before the current international zone [at St Pancras], there would be unacceptable passenger delays of many hours and potential capping of services.
It predicted that Eurostar would be ineligible to process all passengers with just 24 kiosks.
It is worth noting that we have only been allocated 24 “free issue” kiosks by the French MOI, which would be severely inadequate to accommodate passenger numbers, and we are, therefore, having to acquire additional kiosks to avoid passenger disruption.
Eurostar operates about 14 trains from St Pancras to Paris daily, and each train is eligible to carry up to 900 passengers.
In addition, HS1 noted that implementing the EES at the Grande-listed St Pancras building would be challenging because of space limitations. In addition, HS1 also mentioned that the queuing process would be complicated due to insufficient space.