Drivers face huge delays into Dover amid heightened security at apparently understaffed French passport controls.
Also, nearly 5000km in a Porsche 911 SC via Stuttgart, the Alps, Italian Lakes and Monaco. A call for more Belgian box junctions. UK coach crash in eastern France.
UNDERSTAFFED BORDER BEHIND MAJOR DOVER DELAYS
Drivers wait up to fourteen hours to board ferries.
Even by the standards of recent weeks, queues into Port of Dover overnight and today have been unprecedented.
Drivers have waited fourteen hours to board ferries, a combination of queues on the A20 and A2, and through the port overflow ‘buffer zone’, as French officials conducted stringent passport checks in the wake of the Nice Attack.
Around 09:00BST, Port of Dover reported that passport checks had been relaxed and that traffic was moving faster, though drivers still faced a five hour delay on the A20 according to P&O.
By 10:00BST, Port of Dover said the total delay was six hours including 30 minutes in the buffer zone.
Estimated delays on the A20 then stood at five hours and three hours on the A2.
Kent Police have advised passengers to pack food and water and expect delays. Kent County Council said it was delivering 11,000 bottles of water to drivers stuck on the road.
At 13:00BST Port of Dover said delays varied from 300 to 600 minutes with a 110 minute wait in the buffer zone.
As they have done throughout recent border queues in Dover, ferry operators said delayed passengers would be accommodated on the next ‘available’ service.
DFDS said it was putting on extra services tonight and early tomorrow morning.
The mystery is why Dover is so affected while most other borders with France are free-flowing (with the exception of Belgium>France).
As commenter ‘German Girl’ says on our article this week about border delays with France, ‘As usual the French are causing havoc at the start of the summer holidays. This time it is horrendous passport checks because of the “increased” terrorist threat, despite the fact that most attacks have been carried out by home-grown citizens. Why then aren’t there such rigorous controls on the French-Spanish, Belgium or German borders where traffic is flowing freely??’
However, a statement from Port of Dover says the problem is down to understaffing: ‘French border control booths have been seriously understaffed overnight with only three booths available for tourists out of a potential seven,’ it says.
‘At one stage, only one French officer was available to check passengers on hundreds of coaches, resulting in each coach taking 40 minutes to process.’
It says the issue was raised with the British government earlier this week.
Drivers waited for more than two hours to pass through controls on Wednesday though the situation calmed from then until Friday evening.
Eurotunnel has escaped relatively unscathed. It told us on Wednesday it had invested in extra traffic lanes at its UK terminal to improve traffic flow – though an accident on the M20 on Friday evening saw drivers then waiting for 90 minutes. Delays before check-in have been a consistent 90 minutes today.
Meanwhile, the pattern of border delays in northern France in the wake of the Nice Attack has continued.
Most affected is still the Belgian border, both ways, east of Dunkirk on the A16; the E17 southbound into Lille and the E19 towards Valenciennes. Delays of 60 minutes are not unusual. E42 to Lille continues to be clear.
roundup: six out of ten of the busiest junction are blocked by impatient drivers reports FIA quoting a study by motoring association TCB Touring Club Belgium. The survey looked at fifteen busy intersections in five cities in fifteen minute intervals – one was blocked every time the lights changed. TCB recommends the roll out of yellow-hatched box junctions, the first of which were unveiled in Brussels last year… two pupils were seriously injured and thirteen people hut in a British coach crash on the A39 southbound towards Bourg in eastern France this afternoon says the BBC. The vehicle was on its way from Cheltenham to Dora Baltea in northwest Italy. No other vehicle was involved in the incident near Lons. The coach went into a ditch and overturned.