Port of Dover acts in effort to avert further bank holiday congestion

The Port of Dover has put measures in place in an effort to avoid a repeat of Easter travel chaos over the upcoming bank holiday and school half term break.

Chief executive Doug Bannister told the BBC it had taken steps to stop traffic getting snarled up in post-Brexit border checks.

Up to 5,500 cars and 350 coaches are expected at the port on Friday.

Some coach passengers faced 15 hour delays to board ferries to France in the lead up to Easter, but Bannister said the port has done “everything we can” to prevent travel delays.

The time it takes for travellers to pass through border checks following the UK’s departure from the European Union is a key issue.

It now takes up to a minute-and-a-half to get a car through the port’s border checks, which are staffed by France’s Police aux Frontières. 

For coaches, it can take up to 15 minutes compared to a “few minutes” in pre-Brexit times.

Bannister said: “Right now, what has to happen is coach passengers need to disembark the coach, present themselves in front of Police aux Frontières to have their passports reviewed, any security questions that need to be asked are asked and [the passport] is stamped and [they] get back on the coach.

“There’s no doubt that the additional checks are a factor in the queues,” he said.

However, the port has taken a number of measures to speed things up since Easter, including a reviewed of all  traffic volumes to understand exactly what to expect.

Ferry operators have also worked closely with coach companies to smooth the flow of traffic. 

Bannister 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 the advanced passenger information checks.” 

It also has a covered area where coaches will go for passenger passport checks.

“And then finally, what we’ve done is we’ve worked with all of our port partners, but specifically Police aux Frontières, to ensure that the resource levels are what we require, to make certain that we can maintain the flow rates. And they responded very well,” he said.

However, Bannister admitted that “it would be foolish” to guarantee that there will never be queues at the port.

“But what I can say is that we have put in place all the measures, all the processes, installed new facilities, in the best effort to make certain that those queues cannot happen again.”

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