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Sadiq Khan calls on ministers to prevent post-Brexit border checks set to cause Eurostar travel chaos
10 February 2024, 07:25
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on ministers to prevent post-Brexit border checks causing Eurostar disruption.
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The EU's new checks will mean travellers from outside the bloc will have to register biometrics, including facial and fingerprint scans, at their first point of entry.
HS1, the owner and operator of the rail line and stations between London and the Channel tunnel, said earlier this week that the checks could lead to long delays on Eurostar trains, as well as a capping of services and passenger numbers.
Mr Khan has now called on ministers to provide support to HS1 and Eurostar in a bid to resolve any issues before they damage London's retail and leisure industries, particularly in the run up to Christmas.
Mr Khan said: "The success of the Eurostar is a vital part of London’s and the UK’s economic success – with St Pancras a gateway for huge numbers of tourists and businesspeople in the country.
"As it stands these new post-Brexit checks will cause chaos at St Pancras, with cuts to services and potentially huge queues facing passengers at peak times. This is directly a result of Brexit, and it’s not an issue ministers can now wash their hands of.
"With London’s economy roaring back after the pandemic, this sends a terrible signal to both tourists and businesses from around the world.
"Ministers now need to offer HS1 and Eurostar all the support it needs to resolve these issues as a matter of urgency. Cuts to services and longer delays simply isn’t an option."
John Dickie, Chief Executive at BusinessLDN, said: "London’s status as a global city depends on its ability to provide seamless international connectivity.
"Eurostar and HS1 provide a key link for business and leisure travellers, so the government must urgently find a solution that prevents these new checks causing lengthy delays in the run up to Christmas.
"We should be rolling out the red carpet for overseas visitors to the UK, rather than making them wait or be turned away at the front door due to a combination of red tape and inadequate resourcing."
Eurostar said in 2022 that peak capacity in London dropped by 30% when border checks were introduced after Brexit.
There was a a rise of 22 per cent on the previous 12 months in 2023, with 18.6m people using the service.