Belgium: Borders Open but Checks Enhanced

Updates on the travel situation in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks – roads, borders and the Channel.

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border

Photo @Gendarmerie

As in the aftermath of the Paris Attacks, misleading reports this morning said the French and/or Belgian frontiers have been closed.

There is no evidence to say that they have – so far – but controls have certainly been tightened and drivers should expect delays.

France has deployed 1600 police at 220 frontier points and to transport infrastructure according to the Interior Ministry.

Belgium has also reinforced checks and controls on borders and public transport says the Belgian PM via Euronews.

German police have ‘intensified prevention measures in the border region, including in the border area to the Benelux countries (Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands)’ says a statement.

There is also increased surveillance on the Dutch border with Belgium. Earlier there was said to be ‘little nuisance’ according to ViD but since then queues have grown to a maximum 30mins with the exception of the A12/A4 north from Antwerp while the 10km queue on the A2 from Hasselt is exacerbated by an accident.

In Brussels itself, the airport access road A201 remains closed though traffic has continued to circulate on the nearby R0 ring road, albeit at levels described as a ‘typical Sunday’ for most of the day but busier since.

In the city centre, the area around the Maelbeek metro station remains sealed off, as do all inbound road tunnels (though some have now started to reopen).

Belarus, possibly in reaction to rumours two of its nationals were involved in the attacks, has also strengthened border controls.

Meanwhile, Dover Port says it has been conducting heightened security checks since the Paris Attacks last November – but advises passengers to leave plenty of time for the journey, have passports ready for inspection, and be prepared to exit their vehicles if requested.

Eurotunnel freight said its service was operating normally but that it had implemented ‘capacity protection measures’ to prioritise its regular customers. It also warned about reinforced security checks.

PM David Cameron said after a meeting of security committee COBRA today that police presence would be increased at ports and at other transport infrastructure, including international railway stations.

However, the British government is now advising against all but essential travel to Brussels.

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Update Thursday 24 March: drivers waited a consistent 90 minutes yesterday to cross the Dutch border at near Hasselt yesterday, and about half that on E34 towards Eindhoven. Delays haven’t been nearly so bad today, but drivers leaving Belgium should expect delays of up to 30 minutes at any border crossing, particularly with the Netherlands. With getaway traffic expected to intensify throughout the day, delays will only get worse (and have already started to).

There have also been persistent queues on the E40 crossing to Aachen in Germany and, notably, on the Atlantic border between Spain and France, yesterday afternoon and again this morning. Finally, some good news. According to @ANWBEuropa, an extra lane has been opened on the A12>A93 Kufstein border between Austria and Germany which should help reduce delays on this busy weekend.

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