Exclusive: Eurostar unveils tender for UK eGates
29 May 2015 11:46 GMT

Eurostar trains at St Pancras International

High-speed Channel Tunnel railway service Eurostar is seeking proposals for an eGate project that would see multi-modal biometric security installed at British and possibly French rail stations.

The deadline for interested parties signalling their interest in this procurement is 5pm UK time, 2 June 2015. For full details of this proposed contract see the documents below.

Eurostar says there has seen a significant increase in the extent and nature of the Schengen Entry and Exit checks conducted by the French authorities (Police Aux Frontières PAF) with a major impact on operations in St Pancras International and Eurostar's other UK stations.

Because this raises a challenge towards passenger flow through Eurostar’s stations, the firm wants to install several banks of Immigration Control Gates in St Pancras International, in the first instance, with a possible subsequent expansion into other UK stations and Paris Nord station.

“The Gates require multi biometric capability (particularly fingerprint), to a standard which is sufficient to enable the facilitation of a Schengen entry check on the part of PAF. This is our most immediate need. Additionally, EIL [Eurostar] may subsequently seek to add to this the functionality necessary to support the statutory UK Exit check and, potentially, its own Check-in processes.”

The firm notes that in a survey of 653,000 exit checks on passengers departing from UK stations on Eurostar services, that 73.25% of passengers travelled with passports, and 26.75% used other IDs. Some 55.85% of French passengers use their ID card, vs 44.15% passport, while 99.96% of UK passengers use their passports, vs 0.04% other.

In describing the operational factors that will be considered, Eurstart cites the speed and reliability of checks for each biometry used, and the capability to perform multiple biometric checks and data exchange to a technical standard sufficient to enable the Police Aux Frontières (PAF) to approve the gates for the purposes of conducting a Schengen entry check.

It also cites the ability of the proposal to match PAF requirements including ease of use for supervisors, and the ability to provide eligibility to use the gate to as broad a range of Eurostar passengers as possible.

In the year ending 2014, Eurostar’s reported revenue sales were £867 million and passenger numbers were 10.4 million.