Holidaymakers have travelled overnight to reach the Kent coast as they enter a third day of traffic chaos, despite the Port of Dover “now flowing normally”.
It took until the early hours to clear yesterday’s backlog at Dover, with the port tweeting at 2.15am that the temporary traffic management system had ended, freight vehicles could travel straight through, and tourist traffic via the A2 and A20 was “clear” and “flowing normally”.
But a critical incident is still in place, alongside Operation Brock, with the AA claiming the worst congestion is now around the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone.
Highways England is warning of “severe delays”, while drivers are reporting average speeds of just 5mph in some places.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy of the at the AA, told Sky News: “I think the situation today is one of improvement, particularly at the Port of Dover.
“However, I think the main focus now is shifting towards the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone.
“We had lorries being stacked as part of Operation Brock on the M20, and the subsequent diversion now onto the A20 – so they now meet each other at the terminal at Junction 11 and that’s causing congestion.”
14-hour queues for Eurotunnel
Many trying to reach the Eurotunnel have reported setting off in the middle of the night in a bid to catch their trains. One Eurotunnel passenger claimed they had to queue for 14 hours.
Sky News correspondent Sabah Choudhry, who is in Dover, said the queues around the port now appear to be much shorter.
“Passengers this morning have been told that their wait time is looking to be around two to three hours – so certainly some welcome news for parents with children,” she said.
P&O Ferries tweeted this morning saying there are “currently no queues in or around the port”, but still advised leaving two hours before check-in.”
Both border points say they are expecting fewer travellers today then Friday and Saturday.
The Eurotunnel is set for 7,000 cars – down on the 8,500 on Saturday, while at Dover 6,500 vehicles are expected, down significantly on the 10,000 the previous day.
The long delays have been blamed on slow border checks, Brexit, huge numbers of travellers setting out at the start of the British school summer holidays, as well as the usual flow of goods lorries.
The UK government had blamed a shortage of French border staff, and the French government had argued that passport checks were taking longer now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union.
On Friday, 8,500 cars were processed, but by lunchtime on Saturday, the number processed had already reached more than 17,000.
Natalie Chapman from haulier group Logistics UK said some lorry drivers have waited “in excess of 18 hours” to cross the Channel over the weekend.
Residents in Kent are also affected, unable to travel by car as they would normally due to the congestion.
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French regional prefect Georges-François Leclerc was asked by BFM TV if French customs officers were to blame for the delays seen on Friday and Saturday.
He said they were not, adding: “The Port of Dover, which is a private port, found it easier to blame the French police.”
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is competing to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister, said: “This is a situation that has been caused by a lack of resource at the border.
“That is what the French authorities need to address and that is what I’m being very clear with them about.”
Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chair, said the government had failed “to get a grip” on the problem, labelling it “chaos”.