Today marks the third day of long queues and delays at the Port of Dover as passengers were told this morning to arrive in good time before crossing the Channel. There are fears the chaos could last throughout the summer, with gridlock expected again next weekend.
Holidaymakers faced queues of up to 11 hours over the weekend as they attempted to reach the Port of Dover.
There are still long delays today, causing concerns that they may continue for weeks to come.
The ferry operator DFDS told passengers there were queues of around an hour for French border checks this morning, warning them to “allow a minimum of 120 minutes before your departure to complete all controls”.
P&O Ferries wrote on Twitter: “The queues have picked up and it is taking approximately one hour to clear passport control.”
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According to authorities, there are various reasons for the queues.
British Foreign Minister Liz Truss blamed the French for shortages of passport control staff, while others pointed the finger at Brexit.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “A shortage of French border control staff, along with a serious accident on the M20 and exceptionally high numbers of people travelling, led to roads in Kent becoming extremely busy.”
Meanwhile, John Keefe, the director of public affairs at Eurotunnel, said one of the problems was the poor quality of the roads in Dover.
Before the M20 was built, drivers used the A2, but this was never changed into a dual carriageway.
Mr Keefe told Radio Four: “It needs to be improved so that we can split the traffic between the two routes.
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“And then that takes the pressure off when there is a mixture of passenger and freight.”
He added that the traffic could be eased if more hauliers chose Eurotunnel’s rail services.
However, Toby Howe, the senior highway manager at Kent county council and the tactical lead at Kent Resilience Forum, said the queues at Dove were “normal for a Monday morning”.
But he said there are concerns the queues could build up again next weekend.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, Mr Howe explained that next weekend was likely to be “very busy”.
He continued: “It’s the second busiest getaway weekend of the summer holidays.
“As we’ve just found out the weekend just gone, traffic numbers travelling across the Channel were back to pre-pandemic levels and with the increased checks it is slower to get through, so it takes very little to cause those tailbacks.”
There are fears the gridlock could continue throughout the summer, causing huge disruptions to Britons’ travel plans.
Mr Howe added: “Basically it’s a very vulnerable situation, it takes very little to cause further issues.”
Brexit is being blamed as one of the reasons for the delay because since it came into force, Britons have had to get their passports stamped before entering the EU, which increases the wait time at the border.
Sources at Dover told the Guardian that this increased the average checking time for each car over the weekend from about 58 seconds to 90 seconds.
Port authorities added that they had processed 72,000 passengers by Sunday morning after long queues lined Kent’s motorways for miles on end.
Britons have taken to social media this morning to share their experiences at the Port of Dover with others.
Jacq Dodman tweeted: “Friends coming back to U.K. via Eurotunnel Calais have just taken 2 hours to get through passport control. Brits had 4 booths open French 3, the whole system is groaning under a Brexit catastrophe.”(sic)
Elisa B wrote: “No delays at the moment until you go through – then about an hour.”