England Channel Travel Chaos Continues as Eurotunnel Becomes ‘Hotspot of Holiday Hell’

By PA Media
PA Media
PA Media
July 24, 2022 Updated: July 24, 2022

Disruption at the Port of Dover has cleared with traffic said to be “flowing normally” but travellers trying to cross the English Channel to France are now facing lengthy delays at the Eurotunnel.

The AA motoring group branded the Eurotunnel Shuttle terminal in Folkestone the new “hotspot of holiday hell”, after two days of disruption at Dover saw thousands stuck in traffic jams as they awaited the beginning of their summer getaway.

Eurotunnel said its service at Folkestone was delayed, with processing time from check-in to boarding estimated to be about 90 minutes.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said Eurotunnel-bound motorists are trying to find alternative routes and warned that “many are waiting for several hours” to get to the terminal.

He said: “Dover has now recovered, but Folkestone has become the hotspot of holiday hell.”

Queues at the Port of Dover were reduced to an hour on Sunday, in contrast to scenes of bumper-to-bumper traffic which caused travel chaos in the area since Friday.

Extra post-Brexit border checks and French authorities’ understaffing of checkpoints in Dover have been blamed for the hold-ups.

More than 6,000 tourist cars were expected at the port on Sunday, as people continue their summer trips this weekend after most schools in England and Wales broke up for the holidays.

The Port of Dover said it had assisted more than 10,800 passengers on their way by mid-morning on Sunday.

A spokesman for the port said: “French border is fully manned and everything is flowing normally. There will be queues but short term (less than 60 minutes) during the day.”

Port authorities said work undertaken by them and their partners, “including strong support from French border colleagues”, to clear traffic this weekend demonstrates that the Port of Dover’s “summer plan will work for the rest of the holiday period”.

About 72,000 passengers—more than 200 miles of tourist and freight traffic combined—had been processed across the weekend up until Sunday morning.

Port chief executive Doug Bannister thanked travellers and Dover residents for their understanding during what he described as a “challenging period”, and said he was “incredibly grateful to everyone who has turned this situation around, from the French and UK authorities to our ferry operators, Kent partners, and our own port staff”.

French politician Pierre-Henri Dumont, Republican MP for Calais, has blamed delays on the UK’s exit from the EU but Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss has insisted disruption at the port was the fault of French authorities for not staffing the border properly.

She spoke with French foreign minister Catherine Colonna on Saturday, with the latter stating that the pair had a “good talk”.

Colonna added: “We welcomed the cooperation between our competent technical services to reduce the delays. Need also to improve the facilities of the port of Dover.”

Passengers embarking on cross-Channel sailings from Dover must pass through French border checks before they can board a ferry.

Mark Simmonds, director of policy and external affairs at the British Ports Association, said Brexit “certainly is contributing” to the situation, with “a harder border than there was before”.

Natalie Chapman, from haulier group Logistics UK, echoed concerns about French staff numbers and Brexit changes.

PA Media