Travel delays crossing Channel to France over the summer

Traffic jam onto ferry
Travelling to France for a weekend getaway? Be prepared for busy roads along the Channel.

After a weekend of traffic build-ups leading to the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone and Port of Dover, the AA has warned holidaymakers to expect a summer of delays.

It’s a long road to France

Road closures caused mayhem for Brits heading out to France this weekend. The M20 motorway through Kent to the south coast was closed to cars from Maidstone to Folkestone due to Operation Brock, diverting lorries to park on the motorway and forcing drivers onto smaller roads.

But road closures were not the only cause for delays. Already the second-busiest getaway weekend of the summer holidays, traffic crossing the Channel has only recently returned to pre-pandemic levels, with additional post-Brexit checks slowing things down at the border.

On Friday, a crash further added to the chaos. Congestion was so severe that some people even reported having to sleep in their cars, with the last three miles of the journey taking up to 21 hours.

Traffic has now returned to normal, however Kent Resilience Forum’s Toby Howe said the situation remains “on a knife edge”.

“You only need another crash on the road or maybe a train breakdown or a power failure somewhere for it to then become a big problem.”

“We shouldn’t really have to have queues of traffic due to all of this, so we need more infrastructure in place.”

Is there a solution?

John Keefe, director of public affairs for Getlink (which operates the Eurotunnel between Folkestone and Calais) suggested some solutions to the traffic problem. He proposed:

  • bringing in digital technology to speed up border checks
  • increasing the resilience of the road network, as two of the UK’s biggest ports are served by the same motorway
  • improving the Channel tunnel railway network

“There are definitely solutions. These solutions are not new. They’ve been on the table for many, many years,” said Keefe. “But hopefully something like this will actually focus attention.”

What does this mean for UK travellers?

Unfortunately, delays across the Channel to France are likely to continue over the summer months. Holidaymakers are being urged to leave early for their crossing, and to consider adjusting their route to avoid areas of congestion.

Read our essential summer driving tips for the smoothest journey possible.

 

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