Dover port boss admits it ‘would be foolish’ to rule out bank holiday delays

Up to 5,500 cars and 350 coaches are predicted to travel through the ferry terminal tomorrow.

Motorists are warned that this could be the busiest late May bank holiday weekend on the roads since 2019.

It coincides with the start of the half-term break for most schools.

A survey of 2,138 drivers for the RAC indicated that 19.2 million leisure car trips will take place across the UK between tomorrow and Monday.

The Port of Dover has been under pressure to put measures in place to stop traffic getting snarled up as occurred at the start of the Easter holidays.

Bosses conceded that was a “horrible situation” for travellers, who reported being stuck on coaches for up to 17 hours. Delays were blamed on French border checks, that can now take up to 15 minutes.

Chief executive Doug Bannister stressed it “would be foolish” to guarantee no more queues at the port, although it has since reviewed traffic volumes. He insisted ferry operators were working with coach companies to smooth the traffic flow.

He added: “We created a new processing centre in the western part of the port to better sequence the traffic coming into the port and to do the advanced passenger information checks.”

The port has also reinstated additional border control infrastructure to enhance coach processing capacity by 66 per cent and has worked with the French authorities.

Mr Bannister said they considered asking ferry operators to limit the number of passenger bookings but decided to work with them to ease congestion instead.

He continued: “What I would rather do is make certain that collectively, we come together and try to service the demand as best as we possibly can.”

He added: “One of the things that we have found is that things ‘happen’. But we have put in place all the measures in the best effort to make certain that those queues cannot happen again.”

Natalie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, said: “It’s vital that there isn’t a repeat of the Easter holiday traffic chaos which had a massive impact on Dover and people travelling through the port –especially on coaches.

“It is clear there has been a lot of work undertaken by the port to try to reduce the expected impact on Dover.”

The Kent Resilience Forum, which manages emergency planning for the county, confirmed it has deployed the contraflow system Operation Brock on the M20 in a bid to ease congestion around the coast this weekend.

Simon Jones, KRF strategic lead, said: “Our aim is always to do everything we can to get people to where they want to be as safely and as quickly as possible.”

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