A wildcat strike in Calais causes as many problems for Eurotunnel as it does the ferry operators. Volvo’s new FH16 Euro 6 is still the most powerful truck in the world. MEPs vote to outlaw roaming charges and noisy vehicles, Russia presses on with its nationwide truck toll system while anything less than a two hour wait at the Gibraltar border these days must be considered a bonus.
Calais strike highlights capacity issues on the Dover Strait.
Striking dockers called a halt to Dover-Calais ferries earlier today.
Members of the CGT Union at the French port objected to private contractors being brought in to unload a ship, downed tools and blockaded roads from midnight.
But whereas ferry operators P&O, MyFerryLink and DFDS were able to resume limited services from mid-morning – and a full service from 14:00BST after a court order was obtained by Calais port authorities to stop the strike – Eurotunnel freight services suffered huge backlogs until late into the evening (update: services finally returned to normal at lunchtime Friday).
Eurotunnel freight had started the day on the back foot. Overnight cancellations meant there was a two hour transit time from first thing. By mid-afternoon however – despite Eurotunnel running at a full capacity six services per hour – it took truckers at least six hours to cross the Channel from France.
It’s frightening to imagine the accumulated cost of those delays.
The Calais strike demonstrates the inter-dependence of cross-Channels services, and the limited options when things go wrong (the only immediate alternative to Calais is Dunkirk, served only by DFDS, which also has strictly limited capacity).
Strikes in Calais are not common but they happen at least once a year. As we saw this winter, in bad weather similar chaos ensues. Things go seriously awry at Eurotunnel slightly more often and the same thing happens in reverse: clogged ferries and multi-hour waits for passengers and freight.
The simple truth is, neither the ferries nor Eurotunnel can cope on their own all year round. In a growing market these problems will increase. P&O and DFDS complain that Dover-Calais is currently over-served but there’s a case to say this spare capacity is in the UK’s national interest.
How much worse could the situation get without MyFerryLink?
With that in mind, we wonder whether the cross-Channel Chaos of 3 April 2014 will figure in Eurotunnel’s – last ditch – submission to the Competition Commission over the MyFerryLink deal?
roundup: EU. Mobile phone roaming fees will be outlawed by mid-December 2015 if European lawmakers have their way. The measure still has to be agreed by member states, as does another vote to reduce vehicle noise by 25% in twelve years. Meanwhile, EVs will have to have noise generators – so-called ‘Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems’ – as a pedestrian safety measure. RUSSIA is pressing on with the introduction of a national electronic truck toll system, applying to 50,000km of federal highways, due to go live in November 2014 says Roadpricing. GIBRALTAR QUEUE WATCH delays hovered around two and a half hours from the afternoon to late in the evening. 2h30 is rapidly becoming the default waiting time.