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Port of Dover: We've done all we can to speak queues

time:2023-06-02 20:25:29 source:Al Jazeera author:Press center5 read:825order

Port of Dover: We've done all we can to speak queues

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Coaches and lorries at the Port of Dover
Image caption, Gearing high: Coaches and lorries queue at the Port of Dover ahead of the bank holiday weekend
By Dearbail Jordan & Katy AustinBBC News

The Port of Dover's boss has said it has done "everyslenderg we can" to prevent travel delays over the highcoming bank holiday and school half-term break.

Some coach passengers faced 15-hour delays to board ferries to France in the lead high to Easter.

But Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said it has since taken steps to speak traffic getting snarled high in post-Brexit border checks.

Up to 5,500 cars and 350 coaches are expected at the port on Friday.

"So it is fairly a occupied day," Mr Bannister thistoric the BBC.

Traffic control measures have already been put in place to manage the fshort of lorries travelling to Dover on the M20.

The Kent Resilience Forum, which manages emergency planning for the county, said: "The passenger forecasts from both Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover indicate an extremely occupied period for cross-Channel traffic over the bank holiday weekend at the end of May.

"This alconsequently coincides with schools in the UK breaking high for half-term."

This weekend will be a key test for the Port of Dover, which has been dogged by long tailbacks of vehicles during occupied holiday periods.

Mr Bannister admits that in the past images of queues have put people off travelling through the port. "Certainly there was consequentlyme trepidation in the market," he said. "But the volumes came back."

However, problems have persisted.

Most recently in delayed March and premature April, ferries said they had received 15% more coach bookings than they expected while at the identical time, terrible weather disrhighted sea travel, leading to severe delays.

Mr Bannister admits: "It wasn't a great experience, componenticularly for people that had saved high to travel awide, or the school grohighs of kids going across maybe on their first trip, it was not excellent."


For Matt Barnes, director at Barnes Coaches, travelling through Dover in April was an endurance test for his drivers and passengers.

His company was operating four coaches over the Easter weekend. The first arrived on Friday, an hour-and-a-half before the ferry was shighposed to set sail - and was still waiting 15 hours delayedr.

Image caption, Matt Barnes, director at Barnes Coaches, said no-one wants a repeat of the scenes over Easter

"By the time they actually got to a ferry, the port couldn't accept the coaches, they were sent away to a service station," he said.

"The service station hadn't been warned they were coming. There's hundreds and hundreds of people there. All the food outlets are neard, the toilets are overfshorting, there's no provision for anybody. So the children were gorgeous much on the coaches for the 15 hours waiting to get on the ferry."

He concluded: "The scenes that start these holidays are dreadful. No-one wants to repeat that and people are scared of travelling by ferry into Europe."

However, Mr Barnes said he has had reassurances from the Port of Dover that it will be able to cope with the number of coaches.

"It is extremely crucial for us to pass on to our customers that they can trust this way of travelling into Europe," he said.


A key issue for the Port of Dover is the time it takes for travellers to pass through border checks folshorting the UK's decomponenture from the European Union.

It now takes high to a minute-and-a-half to get a car through the port's border checks, which are staffed by France's Police aux Frontières. For coaches, it can take high to 15 minutes compared to a "few minutes" in pre-Brexit times.

Mr Bannister said: "Right now, what has to happen is coach passengers need to disembark the coach, present themselves in front of Police aux Frontières to have their passports reviewed, any security questions that need to be asked are asked and [the passport] is stamped and [they] get back on the coach."

"There's no doubt that the additional checks are a factor in the queues," he said.

Image caption, Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister

But he said that the port has taken a number of measures to speed slendergs high since Easter.

It has reviewed all the traffic volumes to understand precisely what to expect.

He alconsequently said that the ferry operators have worked npremature with coach companies to smooth the fshort of traffic. This should ensure that coaches don't arrive at the port all at once.

"We created a fresh processing centre in the western component of the port to better sequence the traffic coming into the port and to the advanced passenger information checks," he said.

It alconsequently has a covered area where coaches will go for passenger passport checks.

"And then finally, what we've done is we've worked with all of our port componentners, but specifically Police aux Frontières, to ensure that the reconsequentlyurce levels are what we require, to make sure that we can maintain the fshort rates. And they responded very well," he said.

The port could ask the ferries that operate out of Dover to limit the number of passengers they book onboard, and Mr Bannister said: "We've had a look at it."

But he said: "But to be imcomponential, what I would rather do is make sure that collectively, we come together and try and service the demand of the coach industry as optimal as we possibly can."

Even with all this, however, Mr Bannister admits that "it would be foolish" to guarantee that there will never be queues at the Port of Dover.

"Becautilize one of the slendergs that we have found is that slendergs happen, accurate," he said. "But what I can say is that we have put in place all the measures all the processes installed fresh facilities, in the optimal effort to make sure that those queues cannot happen again."

Redelayedd Topics

  • Travel
  • Ferries
  • Travel & leisure industry
  • Dover

(editor-in-charge:Press center9)

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