IN Groupe (formerly Imprimerie Nationale) is to equip Eurotunnel’s terminals in Coquelles (Calais Fréthun) and Folkestone with its SAS PARAFE (E-Gate) technology. Separately, Eurotunnel is taking legal action against the British government
The agreement was signed in the presence of Xavier Bertrand, President of the Hauts-de-France region.
Eurotunnel, which transports more than 11M passengers each year between Coquelles and
Folkestone, says the deal is part of its preparations for Brexit.
The technology is used at airports, but will now be implemented at the vital road and rail border between the UK and France.
The agreement is the result of collective work carried out over several months between Eurotunnel and IN Groupe, under the authority of the Minister of the Interior in France. This hi-tech investment financed by Eurotunnel will make it easier for passengers holding biometric passports to cross the border.
The use of this technology contributes to the modernisation of operational border management and the evolution towards intelligent management. It also makes possible the dual objective of facilitating and speeding up border crossings which, in the context of increasing passenger flow and an increase in the quality of border checks which provides greater certainty on travellers’ identities and the rights associated with these.
For the first phase of this project, the 51,000 passengers travelling by coach every year, mostly tourists, will be the first to use the facial recognition PARAFE gates from the beginning of April. In addition, two sets of nine PARAFE gates (five for departures, four for arrivals) with new generation facial recognition will be installed in France and the UK and be available for the relevant authorities to speed up and secure the border crossing.
Later phases will focus on equipment for Eurotunnel’s Flexiplus services and then a broader roll out.
IN Groupe, a global specialist in corporate identity, has partnered with Gunnebo, a world leader in security solution and services, to deploy its latest generation E-Gates to equip the land border. By reinforcing security while improving the flow of travellers at borders, both on board as well as on arrival, they contribute to improving passenger satisfaction.
In a separate move, Eurotunnel is suing the British Government for excluding it from bidding for any of the £108M worth of "no deal" Brexit contracts that were awarded to Seaborne Freight, DFDS and Brittany Ferries.
Eurotunnel described it as a “secretive and flawed procurement process."
The Department for Transport defended the process, arguing the “extreme urgency” of preparing Britain for Brexit by March 29 justified the swift action.
At a preliminary High Court hearing in London, the spokesman for the Department for Transport said the government’s procurement process was only for "maritime freight" services and that Eurotunnel "could never have provided that capacity" and "could not have complied" with the terms of the contracts.
Eurotunnel’s barrister Daniel Beard QC argued that the procurement process for "additional capacity for transport of goods across the English Channel" had been "undertaken without any public notice being issued."
Factually this statement is incorrect, since two of the contracts cover transports across the North Sea (Seaborne - since cancelled) and DFDS Seaways. The Brittany Ferries’ contract covers the Western Channel, also well away from the Dover Straits "pinch point."
There is no question that Eurotunnel is a highly successful freight carrier. Its truck shuttles carried 1.7M trucks in 2018, a new annual record and around 45% of the Dover Straits market. In January this year it posted 145,960 trucks, 1% up year on year and a monthly record for January.
However, just like the Dover-Calais ferries, Eurotunnel is a facilitator of accompanied trucking on the shortest crossing between the UK and the Continent, and this mode and this route are obviously the parts of the supply chain that are most exposed to post-Brexit border issues.
The whole point of the emergency shipping contracts is to diversify supply chain routes and reduce overdependency on the Dover Straits, and allow time for customs clerance while trucks and trailers are on the water, avoiding delays in the ports.
If the government had awarded emergency contracts for more Dover-Calais ferry services from P&O Ferries and DFDS, Eurotunnel would have a case.