• Sun. Jan 29th, 2023

Holidaymakers travel overnight to make Channel crossings as drivers told to brace for more ‘severe’ delays


Jul 24, 2022

Holidaymakers have travelled overnight to reach the Kent coast as they enter a third day of traffic chaos, despite the Port of Dover clearing its weekend backlog.

Border and ferry staff worked “through the night” to clear “huge volumes of tourist and freight traffic”, so that services at Dover were finally able to “get back to normal by the early hours of Sunday morning”, a port spokesperson said.

Port officials say they have processed 72,000 vehicles and 200 miles of traffic so far this weekend.

But a critical incident is still in place across Kent, alongside Operation Brock, with the AA claiming the worst congestion is now around the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent
Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent

Highways England is warning of “severe delays”, while drivers are reporting average speeds of just 5mph in some places.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy of the at the AA, told Sky News: “I think the situation today is one of improvement, particularly at the Port of Dover.

“However, I think the main focus now is shifting towards the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone.

“We had lorries being stacked as part of Operation Brock on the M20, and the subsequent diversion now onto the A20 – so they now meet each other at the terminal at Junction 11 and that’s causing congestion.”

14-hour queues for Eurotunnel

Many trying to reach the Eurotunnel have reported setting off in the middle of the night in a bid to catch their trains. One Eurotunnel passenger claimed they had to queue for 14 hours.

Sky News correspondent Sabah Choudhry, who is in Dover, said the queues around the port now appear to be much shorter.

“Passengers this morning have been told that their wait time is looking to be around two to three hours – so certainly some welcome news for parents with children,” she said.

P&O Ferries tweeted this morning saying there are “currently no queues in or around the port”, but still advised leaving two hours before check-in, with port officials also urging people to check with ferry companies before travel.

Both border points say they are expecting fewer travellers today then Friday and Saturday.

The Eurotunnel is set for 7,000 cars – down on the 8,500 on Saturday, while at Dover 6,500 vehicles are expected, down significantly on the 10,000 the previous day.

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‘It could take three hours to travel a mile’

The long delays have been blamed on slow border checks, Brexit, huge numbers of travellers setting out at the start of the British school summer holidays, as well as the usual flow of goods lorries.

The UK government had blamed a shortage of French border staff, and the French government had argued that passport checks were taking longer now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union.

On Friday, 8,500 cars were processed, but by lunchtime on Saturday, the number processed had already reached more than 17,000.

Natalie Chapman from haulier group Logistics UK said some lorry drivers have waited “in excess of 18 hours” to cross the Channel over the weekend.

Residents in Kent are also affected, unable to travel by car as they would normally due to the congestion.

Read more:
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Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Staffing at French border control at the Port of Dover is

UK claims lack of resources while French blame Brexit

French regional prefect Georges-François Leclerc was asked by BFM TV if French customs officers were to blame for the delays seen on Friday and Saturday.

He said they were not, adding: “The Port of Dover, which is a private port, found it easier to blame the French police.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is competing to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister, said: “This is a situation that has been caused by a lack of resource at the border.

“That is what the French authorities need to address and that is what I’m being very clear with them about.”

Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chair, said the government had failed “to get a grip” on the problem, labelling it “chaos”.

Source : Sky.com

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