Nightmare Easter Travel in Wake of Brussels Attacks

Dover and Eurotunnel bear the brunt of increased security checks during the Easter getaway, but drivers in Belgium and the Netherlands fare hardly any better.

Also, facts and figures on the Gotthard Tunnel-jam dodging via A13 San Bernardino. Accelerated redevelopment for France’s notorious N79 after minibus tragedy. EU brigs France to book over double-manned rest fines.

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NIGHTMARE EASTER TRAVEL IN WAKE OF BRUSSELS ATTACKS

Long border delays due to increased security, and Easter traffic.

Maunday Thursday was supposed to be the busiest day of the year on German roads. Instead it seems drivers paced themselves and spread the misery over three solid days instead. Roads are expected to quieten now until the big return on Monday.

Maunday Thursday was supposed to be the busiest day of the year on German roads. Instead it seems drivers paced themselves and spread the misery over three solid days instead. Roads are expected to quieten now until the big return on Monday.

No-one can say they weren’t warned but the reality of enhanced border checks in the wake of the Brussels Attacks is surely worse than anyone anticipated.

Home Secretary Theresa May said in the House of Commons on Wednesday that Easter travellers should expect extra delays this weekend, especially at the Channel ports, on what is one of the busiest getaways of the year.

Drivers typically waited two hours to check in at Dover today. That was due to 100% passport checks, increased security and high volumes of traffic said DFDS.

French police performed additional security checks at the port entrance said Port of Dover.

Traffic in Dover only returned to normal around midnight according to P&O.

The situation was barely any better at Eurotunnel Folkestone. Drivers waited up to 2h30 to catch their trains as jams backed onto the M20.

The queue before check-in finally cleared at 20:00 according to @LeShuttle.

Ominously, a statement issued after a meeting of EU Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs in Brussels on Friday said, among other things, the block will ‘pursue ongoing work in a resolute manner’ including, ‘on systematic checks at external borders of the Schengen area’.

The UK lies outside the EU’s borderless, passport-free Schengen area.

Elsewhere it was almost as bad, especially on the border between Belgium and the Netherlands.

As is becoming the habit, queues were slow to establish but, as the Easter getaway got into full swing, a two hour delay built up on the A12-A4 across the Dutch border from Antwerp, by far the worst affected.

The E34 towards Eindhoven, and A2 past Hasselt, saw significant delays too but less so than previously. However, a 60 minute queue built up for the first time on the A4 crossing into Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, Dutch drivers heading into Germany on the A67 at Venlo waited up to 90 minutes.

There were also persistent queues on the major roads across the French border around Lille but not major delays.

Traffic should lessen tomorrow (Saturday) and, hopefully, the pressure on border crossings too – though Dover and Eurotunnel are set for another busy day.

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Dodging the Gotthard Tunnel - more later.

With delays of more than an hour at the Gotthard Tunnel, the official advice is to detour via the A3-A13 San Bernardino Tunnel. This route has been no stranger to stonking delays either, with its share of single lane tunnels too, but TCS Touring Club Suisse says last year’s frequent road works have been reduced to just two sites now, plus the bottlenecks are nowhere near as bad as Gotthard. Meanwhile, this road is less prone to stationary jams. Drivers might be delayed but they tend to keep moving. The 224km direct route between Basel and Bellinzona (at the junction of A2 and A13 in southern Switzerland) via Gotthard takes 2h20 according to Google Maps. Via the A13-A3 San Bernardino (and past Zurich) it takes 45 minutes longer over an extra 80km. The Bernardino way is better for those who don’t like tunnels much either: it’s a mere 6.6km long compared to Gotthard’s 17km.

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roundup: FRANCE. The state is to accelerate the redevelopment of N79 in response to a terrible minibus crash this morning near Moulins in which twelve people died. The nineteen year old driver survived as did the two occupants of an Italian-registered truck also involved. All those killed were Portuguese nationals on the way home for Easter from Switzerland according to AFP. Known as RCEA Route Centre-Europe Atlantique, N79 is the central section of a set of east-west routes between Bordeaux and Nantes in the west and Mulhouse and Geneva/Mont Blanc Tunnel in the east. It is popular with drivers thanks to the lack of road tolls – up to 10,000 vehicles each day, 40 percent of them HGVs. Much of RCEA is dual-carriageway except for N79 which is now dubbed ‘the most dangerous road in France’ after a succession of fatal accidents in the past five years. @TrafficBasher tells us, ‘I know that exact location very well and have to say I’m not that surprised. It’s a pretty dangerous with frustration and monotony the main problems I think, in general – though not necessarily in this case.’ N79 has been undergoing redevelopment for some years with an end date of 2025 and beyond. That is now brought forward to 2021 said @AVidalies, Minister for Transport, today at cost of €1 billion, split evenly between the Saône-et-Loire region and Allier, scene of today’s crash. TRUCKS. The European Commission is bringing ‘pre-infraction proceedings’ against France for its apparent new double-manning rest period fines reports Dutch website BigTruck.nl. Reports last week said drivers on double-manned trips were being fined huge amounts – €17,000 in one case – for not taking 45 minute breaks in a stationary vehicle. The Freight Transport Association said it was investigating. France has six weeks to reply to the Commission’s request.

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