Northern France sees 8-hour tailbacks as Brits stockpile ahead of Brexit

Massive traffic congestion has been reported in northern France as British pre-Brexit stockpiling sees long queues for lorries to access the Channel Tunnel.

Northern France sees 8-hour tailbacks as Brits stockpile ahead of Brexit

Emergency overflow areas have been set up and extra police deployed in the Nord-pas-de-Calais area of northern France to deal with the increasingly huge tailbacks of lorries waiting for access to the Channel Tunnel.

November saw the second highest level of lorry traffic in the tunnel's history, and traffic is increasing even more in December as customers in the UK rush to stock up on European goods ahead of January 1st.

From that date, the Brexit transition period ends and the rules will change for goods coming between the UK and the EU, although the fact that a trade deal has still not been agreed means there is plenty of uncertainty about what the rules will be.

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So customers are placing rush orders in an attempt to avoid possible chaos at the ports in the early part of 2021.

An extra 500 police have been deployed to implement the area's emergency traffic plan and keep the A16 running for non-freight traffic.

But hauliers and exporters in the region say their drivers are waiting up to eight hours to get onto a Tunnel crossing.

André Pecqueur, head of the French breweries La Goudale and La Saint-Omer, told Le Parisien: “The British are stocking up like crazy.

“Our beer exports have increased by 20 percent. Currently we have 120 lorries going to England daily, as opposed to the usual 80. But the situation on the roads is appalling.

“There is a wait of up to eight hours – it's inhuman, our drivers are tired.

“They can't rest and have to remain vigilant as they move forward. It is very hard physically and mentally.”

Although the increased sales might sound like good news for European businesses, most anticipate a collapse in demand in the early part on 2021, and in the meantime are paying their drivers to sit in traffic.

Non-freight traffic on the tunnel is running normally.




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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

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The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.