June 17, 2024

Port Dover warns of two and a half hour waits this weekend | Ferry travel

Cross-Channel ferry passengers will have to wait up to two-and-a-half hours at Dover this weekend, the port has warned, as the peak holiday season begins.

Post-Brexit passport checks will add to the delays for tourists heading to France, despite some mitigation measures put in place by the port.

Queues are expected to increase between 6am and 1pm on the first weekend after most school holidays start in England and Wales, with more than 3,000 private cars expected before 10am on Saturday – more more than five times the number expected next Tuesday.

The port has worked with coach operators to spread departures over less busy days, but car passengers planning to travel on Saturday and Sunday are advised to arrive three hours before their booked departure.

Passengers should expect to wait 90 minutes on other busy summer days for border processing, according to Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister.

He said the port was “working hard to ensure the best experience” for holidaymakers, being mainly used by cargo outside holiday periods. Additional kiosks have been put in place for French border officials and coaches are being diverted to another area for processing to reduce waiting times.

“However,” said Bannister, “our modeling shows that processing times could be up to two and a half hours during the 6am to 1pm peak hours during the first few Saturdays and Sundays of the summer holidays, due to the great demand for. these days.”

Coaches were subject to long delays at the start of the Easter holidays, with some waiting for up to 10 hours. Border rules now mean that each passenger’s passport is checked individually. A new system of checks on coach passengers, introduced for the first time for the May half term, will be used again during the summer.

Vehicles can move quickly through the port once border checks have been completed, but Dover is physically confined by the town and cliffs and has only a small holding area for bringing in queues. The port has encouraged people not to arrive more than the recommended three times in advance, and passengers are usually able to catch the next ferry if they miss their booked sailing.

Abby Penlington, director of Discover Ferries, said it was the busiest travel weekend of the year, adding: “Although Dover will undoubtedly be very busy due to the demand on the route, everyone will be able to get away .”

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Bannister said Dover could often clear disruptions quickly and was resilient but could not avoid queues on the busiest days.

Holidaymakers elsewhere in Britain are also expected to have a difficult weekend, with rail strikes on Thursday and Saturday causing major disruption to trains, adding to the expected congestion on major roads .

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