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Dover Port: ‘Tourist passenger traffic back to normal’ after delays

The port is preparing for another wave of Easter holiday traffic this coming weekend. P&O ferries, however, remain suspended on the Calais route

There was considerable congestion at the Port of Dover last weekend, but traffic is now moving smoothly, a spokesperson said Pic: S Kozakiewicz / Shutterstock

Tourist traffic at the Port of Dover is now running smoothly again after a busy weekend when Easter holiday traffic was compounded by the continued suspension of P&O Ferries services.

Over the weekend, passengers were advised to bring food and drink with them in case they were caught in queues, but the Port of Dover has told The Connexion that the backlog cleared around 04:00 yesterday (April 10) and remains clear today, as it enters “the quieter part of the week. 

“We dealt with traffic really well over the weekend,” a spokesperson said, adding that passengers should now have no difficulties as long as they arrive with plenty of time before their ferry. They can check when they should get to the port with their operator. 

The Port of Dover expects that “this coming [Easter] weekend will be busy,” but there may not be as many people leaving England for France as there were last weekend, which marked the beginning of the Easter holidays for many. 

Anyone travelling to France this weekend – between April 15 and 18 – are advised by the Port to get to Dover “in good time” but not necessarily too early, as this may disrupt the progress of passengers booked onto other sailings.

“We will continue to work with partners to help keep communities clear and passengers and goods moving,” the spokesperson said. 

“Over this recent challenging period, which has been further compounded by the Easter getaway, the Port of Dover’s Operations Team has worked round the clock with ferry operators and local partners, including the Kent Resilience Forum, National Highways and Kent Police, to clear freight backlogs and get passengers on their way whilst helping to minimise the impact on the local community and businesses as much as possible,” the spokesperson added.

“Working with just half of the usual ferry capacity last week and only two thirds available this past weekend, the Port managed to process over 30,000 passengers each weekend; treble that of the traffic seen in the corresponding period in 2021.  

“Still operating within these constraints on capacity, Port colleagues continue to work non-stop to minimise disruption and keep traffic flowing across the Channel, with all roads to the Port remaining free-flowing since 04:00 on Sunday morning.”

P&O still suspended 

Some disruption is still being caused by the fact that P&O Ferries are still suspended on the cross-Channel route. 

The company has advised customers with a confirmed booking on their services to “arrive at the port for the P&O sailing time booked. 

“Once at the port please head to the DFDS booths (Dover) or P&O booths (Calais).”

DFDS’ 08:30 service was delayed by 90 minutes this morning (April 11), but other than that crossings appear to be running as scheduled. 

The chief executive of the British Ports Association Richard Ballantyne told Sky News that the weekend’s congestion was largely due to the continued suspension of P&O services, but also said that post-Brexit customs checks were causing delays. 

“There’s still congestion,” he said on Saturday (April 9). “P&O Ferries is out of service at the moment, which is probably the main cause of all the congestion – coupled with one or two other little incidents, and other Brexit scenarios.”

Thousands of lorries have been encountering waits of up to 24 hours in recent days, and this is partly due to an issue with the GVMS IT system used for the customs declarations which have been required since the UK left the EU.

Mr Ballantyne also said that: “We’re expecting probably imminently an announcement about P&O going live again.”

Related articles 

Delays for France ferry travel and Eurotunnel at Dover

New UK-France flight, ferry tailbacks: eight France travel updates

P&O Dover-Calais services remains suspended, row over pay continues

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