EU delays biometric checks; Orient Express cancels UK route
The European Union (EU) is delaying fingerprint and facial scans for travelers, although the change has not been officially announced.
Meanwhile, rail operator the Orient Express has canceled its United Kingdom route, citing challenges associated with the extra border checks.
The EU Entry/Exit System (EES), which requires fingerprint and face biometric checks for departing travelers, was initially to be in place by 2023.
However, the checks now will be introduced no earlier than May 2024. That said, with Paris hosting the Summer Olympics next year, it may be delayed until November 2024. A management board of eu-LISA took the decision last month.
The system is supposed to tighten controls into and out of the Schengen Area. It would register the place of entry or exit and the date, along with the travelers’ biometrics.
The UK’s electronic travel Information and authorization system (Etias), otherwise known as the ‘eurovisa,’ is likely to be implemented six months after the EES is functional.
EU officials have scheduled a meeting for May 31, when a formal announcement about the postponement likely will be made.
Brexit biometric border checks end the UK stretch of the Orient Express
Due to Brexit and biometric checks, the British Pullman service of the Orient Express that transports passengers from London on its traditional boat-train route has ended.
At the start of the Easter holidays, there were long delays of up to 14 hours for travelers and school coach groups at the Port of Dover. There were also queues for Le Shuttle.
The EU is introducing a biometric entry/exit system (EES) which will require non-EU residents to provide facial and fingerprint data when crossing its border. Some travelers will be able to use electronic border gates. There remains skepticism about how checks will work for the youngest travelers.
Passengers had previously boarded carriages from Victoria Station in London to Folkestone and then taken coaches across the Channel to meet Belmond’s continental train in Calais.
Now, they will have to start their Orient Express journey in Paris.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) was founded when James Sherwood bought over 1,900 train cars at a 1977 auction for service from London to Europe.
Brexit will also end Eurostar’s service from St. Pancras to Disneyland Paris this summer.
According to Tom Jenkins, chief executive of Etoa, the European Tourism Association, tourists less often start European tours in the UK.
“It’s not the only factor, but previously we had been the principal arrival point for people coming to Europe from America, from Japan and anywhere else.”
Jenkins adds that EES and Etias could be slow when first introduced and prove to be a bottleneck.
Last year, Eurostar, Eurotunnel and Dover port representatives expressed concern about the practical challenges of introducing biometric checks for non-EU travelers. They highlighted that there needs to be more space outside ticket barriers at St. Pancras capable of accommodating the 1,500 passengers expected per hour. They also wanted details about biometric control process for travelers and freight crews.