Dover delays ease but motorists warned of backlog on other channel routes


Motorists have been warned of severe delays in traffic bound for other channel crossings as the Port of Dover said it had cleared its backlog and returned to normal operation.

Two days after Dover declared a critical incident due to backed-up traffic and a shortage of French passport control officers, the traffic situation there appeared to be improving, if not entirely back to normal.

Traffic jams remain at Folkestone, 13km south-west of Dover, where travellers heading to the Eurotunnel are experiencing several hours of delay.

The Port of Dover said on Sunday morning that its backlog had been cleared and that operations were back to normal, after working through Saturday night to clear freight and tourist traffic.

“I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has turned this situation around,” said chief executive Doug Bannister.

The port has processed 72,000 passengers this weekend.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said Folkestone had become “the hotspot of holiday hell”.

He added: “Drivers heading to Folkestone need to be prepared. We have seen that many are waiting for several hours before they get to the terminal.”

John Keefe, director of public affairs at Getlink, owner of the Eurotunnel, said that the service was operating on time and at full capacity.

“We can see there is a lot of traffic congestion out there,” said Keefe; this might impact passengers trying to reach the Eurotunnel. However once they arrive at check-in, it typically takes around 90 minutes to get through the terminal and board a shuttle.

“Our service is running well, and we are carrying the numbers that were forecast,” said Keefe.

With many British families heading to France at the start of the school holidays, motorists were being held on the M20 waiting for the backlog to clear.

Friday’s incident sparked a dispute between France and the UK, with foreign secretary Liz Truss describing the situation as “awful” and “appalling”.

Dover’s complaint on Friday about the lack of French border staff was matched by Calais, which said a shortage of UK Border Force personnel often caused long waits on the French side.

A travel alert from National Highways warned of severe delays for coastbound traffic on the A20.

“The combined [effect] of both the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel working through backlogs of customers is having a severe impact on traffic in the Kent area surrounding Dover and Folkestone,” it said.

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