Reminder: Delays for France ferry travel and Eurotunnel at Dover

Passengers travelling to France are warned to take food and drink and ‘allow a lot of extra time’ as the Port of Dover works to deal with ‘tsunami of traffic’ and ferry delays

Entrance to Port of Dover Ferry Terminal with large queues
Queues and delays into the Port of Dover have reached record levels in recent days
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People going to France via the Channel Tunnel and ferry are warned to take food, drink and other supplies as long queues continue to build at the Port of Dover.

The delays have been blamed on a shortage of ferries after P&O Ferries sacked 800 staff without warning, a storm that stopped ferries from crossing, customs issues, a train stuck in the Channel Tunnel, and an IT issue that had hampered document processing.

Around 70 ferry sailings are still affected.

Ferry company DFDS was also reporting delays of up to 30 minutes from Dover to Calais. It is not accepting P&O Ferries customers, but has “increased passenger capacity” for its own passengers, it said.

DFDS director of capacity Chris Parker said: “We’re trying to be part of the solution here.”

At the time of writing, DFDS was not reporting delays on the Dunkirk route.

Toby Howe, tactical lead at the Kent Resilience Forum, told the BBC that this weekend and last had been the “perfect storm” that had "culminated in the worst traffic problems near Dover since 2020".

Eurotunnel’s John Keefe called it a “tsunami of traffic”, with the tunnel running at 25-30% over capacity due to people switching travel methods as a result of ferry cancellations.

People travelling to France have been advised to bring supplies, check road routes and consider alternatives, and “allow a lot of extra time” before crossing.

Mr Howe said: “All the minor roads are chock-a-block.”

However, he said that the issues will hopefully ease in the coming days, as “we have put traffic management plans in place now, so that things can flow through Dover, and Dover can still function as a town, and Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover are able to operate as they need to.”

But he said that the summer months, when the crossing is likely to get ever busier, could be “a worry”.

P&O has said that it plans to restart ferry crossings “by next week”, pending inspections by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA). Eight ferries require inspections to ensure they are safe.

In a statement, a P&O Ferries spokesperson apologised for the delays and cancellations, and said: "P&O Ferries are getting ready to resume services across a number of vital routes.

"P&O has been working closely with regulators to ensure our ships are safe to sail. P&O is looking forward to welcoming back vital services and we expect to have two of our vessels ready to sail on the Dover-Calais route by next week, subject to regulatory signoff.”

Two of its ferries have already failed inspections due to concerns that experienced staff had been replaced with less experienced agency workers being paid less than the minimum wage.

The company also confirmed that it would be providing refunds to all booked passengers who are not able to get on alternative services.

In a statement issued this week, the Port of Dover said: “The Port of Dover will be working with our operators and Kent partners, including the Local Resilience Forum, National Highways, and Kent Police, to ensure passenger journeys are as smooth as possible.”

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