Another Black Wednesday In Calais – ‘North Coast 500’

Long delays and lots of migrants in Calais again as MyFerryLink looks ahead to a last ditch legal challenge.

Also, a new website draws all the attractions together on Scotland’s ‘North Coast 500’ route. Low sun blamed for Belgium morning pileups (and full moon for similar in Latvia). Some good news, finally, for Milan’s beleaguered, brand new A35 BreBeMi motorway. Transport directors on trial for ‘social dumping’. Driver union welcomes France and Germany minimum wage rules.

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ANOTHER BLACK WEDNESDAY IN CALAIS

What will it be like if and when MyFerryLink goes?

calais truck queues

The question ‘How is it going at Calais?’ used to mean, how is the weather and are the ferries running to time?

For truck drivers, increasingly it means, are there long freight queues into the port, and are there many migrants hanging around?

Wednesdays seem to be the worst day, and today was no exception.

The alarm was first raised at lunchtime by Tommy Harrison (@Justice4Trucker) who warned of ninety minute delays into the port and immigrants ‘everywhere’.

A few hours later, another driver managed to leave after forty minutes but not before watching ‘hundreds’ of migrants attempting to break into vehicles ahead.

(Meanwhile, it should be said, there were no delays at Eurotunnel freight and drivers were able to pass straight through).

By the evening, drivers faced at least an hour’s wait before check-in, and a further three hour wait for a boat, though by then the migrant gangs had dispersed.

Simon from Boat-Shift Transport was one of those stuck in the queue. He told us via Twitter (@BoatShiftSimon), ‘Such long delays on a ‘normal’ day (no adverse weather, etc). How can it carry on like this?’

We understand the Dover-Calais operators are collectively two ships down due to annual maintenance. However, that begs the question how the route will cope if – or when – MyFerryLink’s three ships are banned from Dover as per the recent Competition and Markets Authority decisions.

The company said it was still optimistic of finding a buyer in an interview with the Dover Express yesterday ahead of its Court of Appeal case next week (the verdict is expected in mid-April).

The sting in the tail is that, should the judgement go against MyFerryLink, an earlier finding by the French competition authorities prevents its ships being sold individually. This all or nothing approach means rival Dover-Calais firms P&O and DFDS are reportedly not interested in taking the ferries on.

Meantime, uncertainty over potential breaches of the drivers’ hours regulations with trucks constantly edging forwards in long queues was addressed this week in a legal advice column on lorry-driver.com.

See below for more truck news.

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There’s no new tarmac as such but the brand new NorthCoast500 website is designed to pull together all the attractions – food, drink, accommodation and landscapes - on the more than five hundred mile circular route around the north of Scotland starting and finishing in Inverness. The Facebook page ‘NorthCoast 500’ is already up and running with a standalone site – NorthCoast500.com – ‘coming soon’. In the meantime visitors can register for updates.

There’s no new tarmac as such but the brand new NorthCoast500 website is designed to pull together all the attractions – food, drink, accommodation and landscapes – on the more than five hundred mile circular route around the north of Scotland starting and finishing in Inverness. The Facebook page ‘NorthCoast 500’ is already up and running with a standalone site – NorthCoast500.com – coming soon. In the meantime visitors can register for updates.

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roundup: BELGIUM. Low sun is blamed for a spate of accidents on the eastbound E40 to Brussels this morning. Three separate incidents around Gent, thankfully all without major injury, led to long delays during rush hour. ‘You really need your wits about you between Brugge and Aalst,’ the VRT traffic unit told Deredactie.be, ‘Drivers should moderate their speed.’ Meanwhile, in LATVIA, BTA Insurance says more than 30% of all car accidents took place during full moons reports Baltic News Network. BTA blames drivers’ heightened emotional state during the peak lunar cycle. The next full moon is due tomorrow (Thursday 5 March). ITALY. The ‘Tangentiale Est Esterna di Milano’ (TEEM – east Milan outer tangential), the bypass motorway between the A4 and A1 – to be known as A58 – opens in mid-May. TEEM also connects midway with the A35 BreBeMi motorway which, anecdotally, has struggled to attract drivers since it opened last July (15% discounts are currently being offered to auto toll tag users). BreBeMi shadows the A4 between Milan and Brescia but, despite being shorter, is more expensive while access from the Milan end is, currently, poor. Hopes are high that A58 will finally relieve the traffic blackspot that is Italy’s second city. In the east, anyway. FRANCE. The trial of six executives from international haulier Norbert Dentressangle, charged with ‘illegal subcontracting’ over the employment of 1,500 drivers from Poland, Romania and Portugal between 2005-2012, started yesterday in Valence reports Le Figaro. It is believed to be the first legal action involving ‘social dumping’, drafting in workers from abroad to undercut local labour. ‘The trial is clearly a test for the company but we are prepared for it,’ said the chief exec last week. The judge deferred proceedings until 5 May to consider a dismissal motion from the defence. MINIMUM WAGE TRUCKS. The European Transport Workers Federation says France and Germany were merely enacting existing EU laws on posting workers abroad when they both recently introduced new minimum wage rules for all truck drivers on their territories. ‘We welcome the commitment of France and Germany to enforce this requirement,’ says Robert Parrillo, president of the ETF Road Transport section. He even thinks the rules should apply to transit drivers and backs it up with a full legal opinion, see here.

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