Migrants Increasingly Playing With Fire in Calais

Theoretically at least the major holiday rush is now over – except for Switzerland – though roads will still be busy for the next few weeks (ahead of a completely quiet September in France).

Also, migrants are increasingly setting fire to blockades – and trucks – on the Calais port road overnight. And, some faint good news on French road safety, despite a truly tragic accident last night, while Brussels finally sees light at the end of its tunnels.

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HOLIDAY TRAFFIC NOW PAST THE SUMMER PEAK

Be prepared for big delays but don’t expect them.

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Austria might be looking forward to a quieter weekend but for the MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring. See more below. Photo @ASFINAG

Calais residents are being asked to avoid the rocade ring road into the port for the next three weekends to make way for returning British tourists.

French and British border forces will open all their booths – ‘ensure thorough checks in response to the terrorist threat, and ensure a smooth transition,’ the sub-prefect of Calais Vincent Berton told NordLittoral.fr – as 6000 tourists make their way through the port and 8000 through Eurotunnel (slightly more than last year apparently).

Ferry operators warn drivers to leave at least 90 minutes to check-in.

But while the Channel is expected to be busy, holiday traffic across the Continent has now passed the summer peak (with a few exceptions).

The roads in France are marked ‘red’ this weekend – for both arrivals and departures between Paris, essentially, and the major (coastal) holiday centres – down from the ‘black’ of the two previous weekends.

Drivers should be prepared for delays. But since holiday traffic so far this year is well down on previous summers, huge delays are not forecast.

From now on traffic in France is in steady decline ahead of a completely quiet September.

However, while traffic from France to Italy via the Mont Blanc Tunnel will also now ease, traffic in the other direction now enters its busiest period.

Saturday afternoons will see long delays for the next three weeks, especially next weekend.

Theoretically, traffic in Germany is past the peak too though busy roads drag on all through September and October.

Based on last year’s experience, and how enthusiastic German drivers have proved themselves so far this summer, it would be folly to expect a clear run, in whichever direction, just yet.

Northern Germany particularly has taken a real beating recently.

Austria might be looking forward to a quieter weekend too but for the MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring, plus the inevitable stragglers bunging up cross-border routes with Germany, Italy and Slovenia (i.e. Fernpass, the Karawanke Tunnel, A13 Brenner autobahn – plus see motorway border queues with Germany).

Detour delays might have settled down this week but the closure of the Gleinalm Tunnel is bound to cause problems on the A9 to and from Graz.  

Italy’s Black Saturday was last weekend, and wasn’t too bad in the event.

This weekend is a last gasp for departures before heavy – but not manic – returns kick in from next weekend.

Meanwhile, after a one week lull, Spain is expected to see another peak of departure and returns this weekend – though less than the big getaway a fortnight ago – concentrated on Friday and Saturday according to DGT.es.

The biggest trouble will be in Switzerland, still in the thick of multi-hour queues at the Gotthard Tunnel.

The only chance to avoid delays is in the hours ahead of daybreak. After that however, forget it.

Jams carry on at Gotthard until mid-October though they begin to slack from the last weekend in August.

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In a worrying escalation from the nightly road blocks in Calais, migrants are now increasingly setting fire to objects thrown on the road, and even the trucks themselves. Early yesterday morning, a vehicle was apparently ‘firebombed’ Calais regular Sam tells us today. The driver behind was threatened with an iron bar. It comes after truck driver Hannah Scott escaped unharmed early Tuesday morning when migrants threw petrol soaked blocks wood onto the road. Police fortunately intervened before they could be lit. Late last month, a French vehicle was also set on fire on the port road, above. The driver also escaped unharmed. Meanwhile, the number of migrants living in the Jungle has reached 9000 according to local reports today, up from 5000 before the summer, as the president of the Nord Pas de Calais region calls for a ‘dawn to dusk’ curfew. Photo Les Calisiens en Colere

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roundup: more good news – if only very slight – on French road safety. One fewer person died on the roads in July compared to the same month last year according to Securite Routiere today, a fall of 0.3 percent. It has more significance than it might sound like however since July and August between them usually account for around 20 percent of the annual death toll. It also brings the overall growth in fatalities this year so far down to 1.5 percent, from 1.9 percent over the first six months of 2016. Meanwhile however, a Swedish tourist died last night after vaulting over a roadside wall in the aftermath of an accident in Sainte Maxime on the Cote d’Azur. The young woman fell 10 meters to her death though her companion’s fall was broken by vegetation and she survived reports The Local France… also good news – almost unalloyed – on the major road works in central Brussels. Of the major tunnels undergoing emergency rehabilitation, only the Montgomery Tunnel on N3 east of the city centre is running late. Its reopening has been put back from November to mid-December says the Brussels Times. Otherwise, all the rest should be finished by early September.

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