The EU's new border-check system, set to take effect in October, could cut the number of Eurostar trains and passengers from London to Europe, according to HS1, the British operator of the high-speed line and stations that connect to the Channel Tunnel.
The Entry/Exit System, or EES, is meant to allow the EU to keep track of non-EU travelers and how long they spend in EU and Schengen territory. The system requires an electronic and biometric check at the border. For train travelers from the non-EU, non-Schengen UK the border is at the station before boarding the train. The system replaces manual passport stamps.
However, HS1 has complained that there will not be enough scanning kiosks or physical space to handle the present number of passengers, 11 million a year, queuing at London's St Pancras Station for the train. HS1 says it needs at least 50 kiosks; the government has proposed 24, which, it says, would either force passengers into overflowing queues, or require Eurostar to schedule fewer trains.
The issue is not unique to the rail line; there have also been warnings from port officials that the new system could lead to 14-hour queues at ports such as Dover where ferry services to the continent operate.