Border and ferry delays pile up as Calais workers commence strike

Fri 20 Jan 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Car queue at Port of Dover

Industrial action by workers in France has led to cancellation of ferry services on the Dover to Calais route and wider disruption at French-UK border crossings.

The strikes, protesting president Emmanuel Macron's plans to raise the pension age in France, forced shippers to cancel or redirect traffic.

Danish shipper DFDS diverted customers on to its ferries to Dunkirk, while P&O Ferries has suspended all but two of its sailings on the route, reports the Loadstar.

Trains and ferries

P&O released an optimised schedule with a shuttle service between Dover and Calais until all traffic is cleared, reports the BBC.

The French strike also affected Eurostar rail services with a reduced number of trains running due to staff shortages.

According to Kent Online, there were delays of more than three hours at Eurotunnel in Folkestone as a result of ferries being cancelled and freight queuing outside the train terminal.

DFDS said the action would also “cause disruption for the delivery and collection of unaccompanied trailers, for 24 hours, as there will be no access to the Unaccompanied Trailer Park”.

Kent prepared

Toby Howe, technical lead for the Kent Resilience Forum, said the Port of Dover had been prepared for the strike action, with plans including clearing freight during early sailings before the strikes started in France.

“They are holding the freight in the port and filling the ferries ready for when they can depart again,” he said.

Operation brock

Operation Brock, the contraflow system which can be brought in to deal with disruption when traffic to the port back up, was not required, with the highway authorities relying on Traffic Access Protocol (TAP) on the A20 between Folkestone and Dover. TAP limits speeds and confines freight traffic to a queue leading into the port of Dover.

Howe said this would “help mitigate the impact on the Kent roads” along with plans to run extra ferries overnight as well as additional Eurotunnel trains.