Cross-Channel ferry passengers were expected to arrive in Dover on time as queues built at the Port of Dover amid fears the severe disruption of recent days could return to Kent throughout the summer.
Ferry operator DFDS told passengers there were queues of around an hour for French border checks on Monday morning and to ‘allow a minimum of 120 minutes before your departure to complete all checks “.
P&O Ferries tweeted“Queues have piled up and it takes about an hour to get through passport control.”
Holidaymakers had to queue until 11am over the weekend with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss accusing the French of running out of passport control staff, but others blaming the red tape caused by Brexit.
Toby Howe, senior highways manager at Kent County Council and tactical manager for the Kent Resilience Forum, said the queues in Dover were “normal for a Monday morning”.
However, there are fears the queues could recur next weekend, one of the busiest of the year for holidaymakers.
Howe told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that next weekend is likely to be “very busy”. He said: ‘It’s the second busiest getaway weekend of the summer holidays.
“As we have just found out the weekend has just ended, traffic across the Channel has returned to pre-pandemic levels and with increased checks it is slower to get through so very much is needed little to cause these traffic jams.”
On what the rest of the summer could bring, he said: “It’s a very vulnerable situation, it takes very little to cause further problems.”
One of the causes of the weekend delay was the need for UK passport holders to have their passports stamped. Sources in Dover say this increased the average check time for each car from around 58 seconds to 90 seconds.
As Brexit took effect in January 2021, the impact on tourism on the continent is only becoming evident as post-pandemic passenger numbers return to normal volumes.
Port authorities said they handled 72,000 passengers on Sunday morning after bumper-to-bumper traffic stretching for miles caused a miserable start to people’s summer holidays.
John Keefe, director of public affairs at Eurotunnel, said one of the problems was poor road quality in Dover. Prior to the construction of the M20, drivers used the A2, but this was never upgraded to a dual carriageway.
“It needs to be improved so that we can split the traffic between the two routes. And then it relieves the pressure when there is a mix of passengers and cargo,” he told Radio 4.
He also said the congestion could be eased if more hauliers choose Eurotunnel’s rail services.