Border Blog: Travel Aftermath of Paris Attacks

All France borders are open and all Channel crossings have operated normally, but drivers should expect delays due to extra security checks at all crossings, in both directions (including Dover).

To be on the safe side we do not record border delays (or police controls) in France in real time but do update this blog on a regular basis with the latest developments.

Controls have now been lifted on the A16 Dunkirk-Ostend and A31-A3 Metz-Luxembourg but are still in place on the A14 and A8 into Lille, the France-Spain Mediterranean and Atlantic motorways, and Dover.

The longest delays are on the three motorway connections between Austria and Germany, the A12/A93 Innsbruck-Munich, A10/A8 Salzburg-Munich and A8/A3 to Passau.

Also, controls Sweden and GermanyTurkey-Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania and now Poland and Norway.

.

Monday 4 January: border delays of up to four hours at the Mont Blanc Tunnel, Frejus Tunnel and the Spain-France Mediterranean AP-7/A9 to Perpignan crossing on Saturday. The Turin Red Cross was called out to drivers waiting at Frejus + Mont Blanc. Today, Denmark announced temporary, random checks at the German border – for at least ten days – in direct response said the Prime Minister to new enhanced checks between Sweden and Denmark.

Tuesday 29 December: strange there would still be regular delays inbound to Lille on the A8 and A14, the A7 to Valenciennes and – in both directions – on the Mediterranean border with Spain A9-AP-7 Perpignan-Barcelona, and none at any other border crossing, but that is how it is playing out.

Wednesday 16 December: shhhh.. whisper it, but it seems the French border controls really are coming down – with the exception of the A14 and A8 into Lille, the France-Spain Mediterranean and Atlantic motorways, and Dover.

Tuesday 15 December: no queues on the A3-A31 Luxembourg-Metz motorway, or on the A16 eastbound from Dunkirk, or A7 towards Valenciennes. However, drivers waited up to 20mins on the A14 and A8 into Lille across the Belgian border while there was a late night 3.5km queue on the Spain>France Mediterranean frontier.

Monday 14 December: as France lifts border controls with Luxembourg, see a roundup of the situation over the past week.

.

Monday 7 December: a relatively quiet weekend save for persistent, substantial queues at the Spanish-French Mediterranean border, on the AP-7/A9 Barcelona-Perpignan, mainly inbound. Same again this morning though much quieter this afternoon. On the roads around Lille and Valenciennes the delays – up to 1h20 for the latter – were inbound too. Meanwhile, the Belgium haulage association FEBETRA says border queues have so far cost its members €3 million.

Monday 7 December: a relatively quiet weekend save for persistent, substantial queues at the Spain-France Mediterranean border, on the AP-7/A9 Barcelona-Perpignan, mainly inbound. Same again this morning though shorter, and quiet this afternoon. On the roads around Lille and Valenciennes the delays – 1h20 for the latter – were inbound too. Meanwhile, Belgium haulage association FEBETRA says border queues have cost its members €3 million. Photo @InfoAutopista

Friday 4 December: on 15 December the European Commission will bring forward proposals on tightening security around the outer border of the passport-free Schengen Zone according to a statement from the French interior minister. This would include travellers to and from the UK.

Thursday 3 December: by now routine delays on the A16 from Dunkirk, around Lille and Valenciennes and Luxembourg, as below. Also, the Swedish government wants to change the law to allow it to shut the Oresund Link between Copenhagen and Malmo in the event of a large influx of migrants though, according to Radio Sweden, a spokesman says, ‘Today there are no plans to use this.’

Wednesday 2 December: another consistent 90min+ delay heading south to Metz from Luxembourg today, “25km of traffic jams” due to border controls, which is a lot “in a country 65km wide” quipped the FT’s Brussels correspondent Duncan Robinson. Queues on the A16 eastbound from Dunkirk built steadily to top out at 45mins but those around Lille and Valenciennes dipped to around 20mins each way. Meanwhile, Norway is having trouble policing its ferry borders with Denmark because the passengers are so drunk says thelocal.no (we can believe that). Also, an EU law professor at Essex University got hold of a leaked Commission plan to suspend the borderless Schengen Zone for two years (to be considered by ministers on Friday says the FT). The only way they could do that is over ‘‘serious deficiencies’ in the border control of a particular Member State’, i.e. Greece (see below).

Tuesday 1 December: as if to remind that police are keeping an eye on borders other than those around Dunkirk, Lille and Luxembourg, delays of up to 1h30 were seen last night on the AP-7/A9 Mediterranean border between Barcelona and Perpignan. Similar to other crossings recently the queue was inbound to France (with the exception of the A16 Dunkirk). Meanwhile, the big news today is that Greece is apparently being threatened with ejection from the borderless Schengen Zone unless it tightens its borders..

Monday 30 November: getting boring now, and not just for the poor people stuck in border jams. Familiar queues today, A16 Dunkirk-Ostend, around Lille and Valenciennes and Luxembourg (see below, et al). The point to make is that the longest delays recently are all inbound, of up to 30mins at any time of day. Meanwhile, for the duration of the COP21 UN climate conference, drivers are warned the most heavily policed borders will be those in closest proximity to Paris, i.e. north and east France.

Sunday 29 November: another if-there-weren’t-any-border-delays-there-wouldn’t-have-been-any-delays-at-all-days (A81 Stuttgart excepted again) in this lull between half-term holidays and Christmas. A16 Dunkirk-Ostend competed with A10 westbound from Salzburg though the former lost spectacularly later on as drivers at the German border waited for up to two hours.. Also, Oxford prof and Guardian columnist Timothy Garton Ash writes that this latter part of 2015 is exactly like 1989 when the walls came down, but in reverse.

Saturday 28 November: apart from a road works closure of the A81 south of Stuttgart there might have been no delays anywhere on the Continent all day except at borders: A16 Dunkirk mercifully a bit quieter but 90min delays inbound A7/A2 to Valenciennes later on. Usual half hour on A31/A3 Luxembourg-Metz. Also typical weekend mega delays Austria>Germany, notably on the recently-quiet A12/A93 Innsbruck-Munich.

Friday 27 November: long queues again on the A16 Dunkirk-Ostend border but with admirable randomness the A2-A7 Valenciennes-Mons saw consistent delays too, especially inbound.

Thursday 26 November: distracted to a certain extent today by the migrant trouble at Calais and, for the first time at Dunkirk too but there was no missing the queue on the A16/E40 at the Belgian border between Dunkirk and Ostend. Eurotunnel noticed it too. This stretch was fairly quiet when border controls started nearly a fortnight ago but has got progressively busier this week with delays of up to two hours. There are still consistent controls on the border roads around Lille and Valenciennes – even on the very minor roads the Belgian press notes today – but at the moment it’s probably a better bet to head east from the Channel on the E42 via Lille and Charleroi than the E40 via Brussels. Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tells the European Parliament that the single currency doesn’t make sense without the borderless Schengen Zone (which he described as ‘partly comatose’) according to Politico.eu.

svinesund

Norway has introduced border controls on all ferry crossings from Sweden, Denmark and Germany, and on some land border crossings from Sweden reports the UK Foreign Office. Photo Svinesund Bridge, E6 Oslo-Gothenburg via @SwedenSE

Wednesday 25 November: entrenched now in an uneasy routine, pretty much like yesterday except really huge delays on Belgian border on the A16 along from Dunkirk. The French interior ministry revealed today that 8,000 Police Nationale and Gendarmerie are deployed at the borders, from a total mobilised force of 120,000 officers. Meanwhile, there was a 9km rush hour queue to the Spanish Mediterranean border at La Jonquera this morning according to one driver but it disappeared shortly after. That highlights a particular hazard: sudden queues of slow moving traffic in border regions. Finally, Deutsche Welle investigates the state of cross-border business and trade on the A8-A3 Germany-Austria border near Passau. Not great.

Tuesday 24 November: drivers heading between the Channel and north or east Europe are bearing the brunt of French border checks. The roads around Lille and Valenciennes and – particularly over the past couple of days – the A16/E40 between Dunkirk and Ostend have seen consistent queues, the latter up to two hours eastbound. At least it seems a bit quieter along the A3/A31 Luxembourg-Metz though half an hour delays are not uncommon. Meanwhile, Norway will introduce border controls at ferry ports from Thursday reports thelocal.no, and Sweden will further tighten its border controls as it seeks to stem the flow of migrants says Copenhagen Post.

Monday 23 November: journalists from La Voix du Nord described checks on the major and minor roads to the Belgian border around Lille and Valenciennes as random today. Delays were noticeably less than previously (typically 15mins throughout the day), as they also were on the A31-A31 Luxembourg-Metz route, maxing out at around 30mins. Busier was the A16 Dunkirk-Ostend crossing point though exacerbated by road works at Ghyvelde and a major accident in the afternoon. More significant was the announcement from Poland that it would reinstate border controls. It’s not clear if this applies to the outer Schengen border or internal borders too. Until it’s clarified, TheNews.pl advises anyone travelling in Poland to take their passports. Meanwhile, in the wake of an attack on the electricity supply to Crimea on Sunday night, Ukraine authorities have suspended freight deliveries to the peninsula though a list of approved goods is being drawn up in consultation with the ‘Crimean Tartar People’ says a statement.

Sunday 22 November: it was a bit quieter today around Lille but typical delays of up to one hour were seen on the A3/A31 between Luxembourg City and Thionville/Metz, and almost as much on the A16/E40 between Calais/Dunkirk and Ostend/Brussels. Meanwhile, Malta’s Prime Minister @JosephMuscat_JM says he has suspended Schengen passport-free rules for the time being. Romania’s new border checks have seen 7km traffic jams and ‘hours’ of delays for travellers heading into Hungary says @Euronews.

Saturday 21 November: unlike the Austria-Germany border where delays tend to be bigger at the weekend – apart from this weekend – France border delays have died down today (though to be fair traffic has too). However, there were still queues around Lille and, as usual, (particularly) with Luxembourg too.

Friday 20 November: controls can appear anywhere but delays are focused still on the French-Belgium border and with Luxembourg. The latter particularly has seen its usual long delays. However the big news today comes after an emergency meeting of European Interior Ministers in Brussels. The EU has agreed to strict new rules on access to the borderless Schengen Zone (reports Deutsche Welle, among many others). Stronger controls will mean ‘systematic and obligatory’ passports checks around the outer border, including with the UK (read this cheat sheet on Schengen from Politico.eu). New proposals are due by the end of the year. In the meantime France will maintain border checks, ‘As long as the terrorist threat lasts’ says @AFP. Meanwhile, Sweden has extended its border controls until (at least) Friday 11 December says @RadioSweden as it calls on neighbouring Denmark to ‘take responsibility’ and impose its own controls – though the ruling party has ruled it out reports The Local Denmark

Back road border control France-Belgium photo via @Gendarmerie

Border control France-Belgium photo via @Gendarmerie

Thursday 19 November: delays might not have particularly improved from earlier in the week but they are at least not appreciably worse, overall. Luxembourg has cemented itself as the French border with the longest queues. It started off quiet again today but delays built relentlessly to two hours by the evening rush and only dipped to half an hour at 21:00. Meanwhile, the borders around Lille are congested as usual, especially since Belgian border town Erquelinnes barred crossing points with concrete blocks to funnel drivers through manned checkpoints. There was more activity around Geneva again this morning but the Spanish border is noticeably quieter. A source from the National Federation of Transporters of Spain (Fenadismer) told Cadena de Suministro, ‘Police perform a ’visualization’ of the vehicle and check the identity of the driver, but it has not become the kind of control that existed prior to Schengen.’

Wednesday 18 November: on Monday, Luxembourg’s Defence Minister advised cross-border commuters to take the train to work this week and that turned out to be good advice. By far the busiest border has been the A3/A31 between Luxembourg City and Thionville/Metz. It was quieter this morning but by the evening drivers were waiting for more than an hour in both directions. Otherwise, outside of rush hours, delays have not topped more than half an hour around the hotspot of Lille. Interestingly, other countries have set up controls too: the German police on the A44 at Aachen at the Belgian border while Dutch military police were out in force on the roads around Arnhem, towards the border with Germany, last night, and Belgian police on the motorways around Antwerp says @Taffilainen. France-Spain was much quieter today, and the main crossings with Geneva, but the A16/E40 to Dunkirk and Calais saw its first controls. Switzerland has ruled out systematic border checks says SwissInfo.ch – 750,000 people and 350,000 vehicles move in and out from neighbouring countries each day… 

Tuesday 17 November: if there was relief yesterday that the border delays were manageable – especially from hauliers – the news today was considerably worse, especially this afternoon. Presumably police are ratcheting up checks while two of the Paris Attacks gunmen remain at large. The border roads around Lille and Valenciennes saw delays of up to an hour but drivers on the A31 and A3 between Thionville and Luxembourg City were stuck for a sustained two hours today, first in one direction and then the other. Luxembourg is a regular stop for trucks due to the cheap fuel. Meanwhile, inbound controls switched back and forth between the Mediterranean and Atlantic sides of the border with Spain with an easy 1h30 queue. Most worrying, three men of ‘Arabian descent’ in a BMW M3 crossed into Spain last night at high speed, direction Barcelona, and evaded police after a 45min chase according to the Olive Press.

Monday 16 November: increased security checks are leading to queues both sides of the border, even in the UK. There was an hour’s delay before check-in at Eurotunnel for trucks, and freight traffic management on the A20 into Dover, by the afternoon. French police are clearly concentrating on the Belgian border around Lille – though the A16 Dunkirk-Ostend was clear all day – the A40/A41 at Geneva and A9 to the Spanish border near Perpignan. Outside of rush hour, where delays reached up to an hour, drivers are rarely waiting more than 20-30mins.

Sunday 15 November: delays at all borders – with Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and particularly Belgium – continued, and are likely to at least until all the attackers are caught. Enhanced checks at Calais today saw some queues onto the A16 motorway. Meanwhile, public institutions in Paris – parks, museums – will open tomorrow, except those normally closed on Mondays.

.

Joint police border controls, France-Spain. Photo @

Joint police border controls, France-Spain. Photo @Policia.

.

Saturday 14 November: Confusion last night as in the immediate wake of the terror attacks in Paris, President Hollande announced France would close its borders.

In practice it means police and security staff stationed at all borders – road, sea, rail and air – even including minor crossings.

So far delays are concentrated on the northern border with Belgium, the eastern with Germany around Strasbourg and Switzerland at Geneva, and southern with Spain at Perpignan. There are also reported queues into Andorra.

The Mont Blanc Tunnel did close last night but has since reopened.

Ferries and trains back to the UK have operated so far without disruption though passengers should leave extra time for security checks. P&O Freight said at 15:00GMT French police in Calais had moved to 100% checks and that drivers should expect delays this afternoon.

Eurotunnel says customers can postpone journeys today, and that late arrivals will be accommodated on the next available service without charge.

Truck driver Colin Petts came through Calais in the early hours and said the port was clear though migrants had apparently put barriers across the road, as on previous occasions this week. Disputed reports saying the Jungle migrant camp was on fire turned out to be correct.

A state of emergency was declared overnight in France meaning many public institutions are closed at least today, most likely longer, with a heavy, armed police presence on the streets and roads, especially around Paris. Public gatherings in the capital region are forbidden until Thursday. Museums and other public cultural institutions in Paris are closed today and tomorrow.

Belgium and Switzerland have both announced extra security measures too.

It is still not clear that all the terrorists are accounted for. The attacks themselves took place in a cluster east of the city centre, and at the Stade de France football stadium in the north, beyond the Peripherique ring road. Reports say at least one of the incidents was a drive-by shooting, from a Belgian registered car.

Apart from the British Embassy in Paris and @FranceInUK, useful contacts include @Paris, @PNationale, @PrefPolice (Paris police) and @Gendarmerie.

Reliable local news sources in English include @France24, @AFP and @TheLocalFrance.

Police Nationale say anyone with information about last night’s attack should phone 197 from France. The official information number for tourists is 00 33 1 45 50 34 60.

.

Have Your Say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s