الجمعة , يونيو 12 2020

Eurotunnel warns of lengthy delays

Eurotunnel train

Nightly incursions are having knock-on effects for services the next day

Eurotunnel has warned passengers they face long delays after what it described as “migrant activity”.

The operator said there were delays in Kent of around an hour before check-in and 90 minutes on site at the terminal. Services from Calais are on schedule.

Police warned of more delays due to Operation Stack, which shuts parts of the coast-bound M20 to cars.

Eurotunnel services have been hit by strikes and migrants targeting lorries for weeks.

On Friday, many were held up on one of the busiest days for travel.

And shortly before midnight on Friday, Eurotunnel was forced to briefly suspend services after migrants accessed the Eurotunnel terminal on the French side.

In other travel updates:

  • P O Ferries said services from Dover and Calais were running with delays of around 60 minutes
  • DFDS Seaways warned of delays of up to 30 minutes to its Dover to Calais service and 40 minutes to its Dover to Dunkirk service
  • Eurostar services are running on time

Lorries have now been parked on the M20 for a total of 19 days over the past three months

Operation Stack, which is designed to help deal with disruption and involves parking up lorries waiting to reach France, remains in place.

The operation means the M20 is closed to non-freight traffic between junctions eight and 11.

Lorries have now been parked on the motorway for a total of 19 days over the past three months.

‘National significance’

James Hookham, from the Freight Transport Association, said the delays were costing £750,000 every day.

“It’s a big number and it’s certainly of national significance because what is in that queue is the exports of the United Kingdom,” he told BBC Breakfast. “It’s not just a Kent and south east England problem, what we’re looking at is delays and costs to the whole economy.”

Philip Gomm of the RAC Foundation said: “Operation Stack has become the rule rather than the exception, and on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year it is causing mayhem for hauliers, holidaymakers and local residents alike.”

On Friday, talks were held between MPs, Kent County Council, Kent Police, cross-Channel operators and hauliers on how to deal with the disruption.

Long-term solution

Damian Green, the Conservative MP for Ashford and former immigration minister, said: “It ought to be possible to protect the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles – that is not an impossible policing task. I know our government is urging very hard the French government to meet its responsibilities there.”

He said a contraflow system on the M20 could be a way to ease the problem in the short term.

He added: “We need a long-term solution which requires action on both sides of the Channel.”

It is thought there are now about 5,000 migrants in Calais.

On Friday, Eurotunnel said police were being called each night to remove migrants from its Coquelles base in France.

It said the migrant activity was well organised and planned, with people so desperate to reach the UK they were prepared to throw themselves at trains travelling at 90mph.

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