Facial recognition is now in use at railway stations in some major cities in China, aiming to help ease potential Spring Festival travel chaos. Passengers have already nicknamed it “black technology,” as it brings ultra-modern technology to the traditional railway experience.
Passengers can use facial recognition kiosks to check in quickly in Beijing West Railway Station. /CFP Photo
This "black technology" could work its magic this year for tens of thousands of passengers, as the most important thing about the upcoming holiday is getting home on time. The traveler can simply insert their train ticket and ID card, look into the camera, then be allowed through the barrier.
Blue facial recognition gates in Beijing West Railway Station offer a quicker option for passengers looking to board their trains. About 20,000 passengers check in using six facial recognition machines at the station every day. Most of these travelers are in a rush to return home. “It’s very convenient. Technology is making life easier.” commented one passenger, who was able to check in within three seconds.
Passengers in a rush heading home, Jan. 2017. /CFP Photo
These machines not only save time for the passengers but also the staff at the railway station. In the past, staff had to dedicate a lot of time to checking passengers' tickets. Now with these self-service machines, the focus has shifted to providing services better oriented towards improving customer experience. The self-service barriers are open 18 hours a day and only two station staff are needed on duty to offer assistance.
Though still a pilot project, data from Beijing West Railway Station shows that around a third of passengers chose to use this self-service check-in. According to one managing member of staff at the station, more machines like this will be installed at all entrances to the station in the near future.
A man takes picture as passengers arrive at Beijing Railway Station in central Beijing, China January 13, 2017 as the annual Spring Festival travel rush begins ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year. /CFP Photo
However, travelers with tickets without a magnetic strip or bought using certain discounts will still have to wait in long lines to get their IDs checked by station staff.
(Written by CGTN reporter Zhao Lingfeng)