Travel chaos in Dover continues to compromise the Easter holiday for hundreds of thousands

Port of Dover

Disruption at Dover port creates chaos for companies and holidaymakers

The Easter Bunny might be late this year in the UK. A combination of a shortage of ferries, bad weather and the start of the holiday has caused severe traffic chaos, forcing travellers to queue for hours.

Since last weekend, the disruption for traffic crossing the English Channel has caused freight vehicles to remain parked on the M20 and A20. One HGV operator told the BBC there were drivers who had to wait up to seven hours, with lorry drivers then having to wait another three to four hours after arriving in Dover.

A spokesman for Logistics UK has said the organisation was "monitoring the situation at the Channel ports closely", although the issue is still ongoing. The Port of Dover urged passengers to "allow plenty of time for their journey". To make matters worse, a freight train breakdown forced the Eurotunnel to operate a reduced service.

"Last weekend, port staff together with ferry operators and Kent partners worked tirelessly to move traffic as effectively as possible", they said in a statement. "We served 30,000 departing passengers, triple that of the corresponding weekend in 2021. Unfortunately, the commencement of the busy Easter getaway period coincided with the impact of reduced ferry services and bad weather that affected remaining operators, causing one vessel to be taken out of service for a couple of days."

The statement added the remaining ferry operators were now back to their full complement of ships. Ashford MP Damien Green called for changes to be made to Operation Brock. "We have established that it does work up until now, even in times of stress, because the motorway is kept open", he said. "Once you close the motorway it makes it impossible, so we need to look at what changes need to happen so Brock can cope with what is a very unusual situation, where more than half of the freight-carrying capacity at Dover has disappeared in one time".

However, Operation Brock, which involves using a moveable barrier to create a contraflow system enabling lorries to queue and other to keep moving in both directions, has also been overwhelmed. With Easter 2022 already compromised for hundreds of thousands, the least decision-makers should do is learn their lesson from it. Roger Gough, leader of Kent County Council, said "a lack of road resilience" is the real cause behind this chaos. "It's high time it is addressed, because of the county's significance to the UK as a trade corridor", he concluded.

Mr Gough attended an emergency meeting with Roads Minister Baroness Vere, which was held on Monday, April 4th. Later, Dover PM Ms Natalie Elphicke said: "Once again the events of the last few days have highlighted the need for more capacity and better traffic management for Dover. It is welcome that the minister has agreed to review the operational performance of these emergency measures".

Post Date: 11/04/2022

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