Delays at Dover come to an end as coach passengers reach port

Ferry passengers are facing significant delays, blamed by authorities on 'lengthy' French border processes

Traffic at the Port of Dover in Kent as the Easter getaway begins. PA
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The UK's Port of Dover has declared a critical incident as bus passengers face significant delays.

The port said the delays were “due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume”.

Additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for Easter have affected operations, the port said on its website on Saturday morning.

“Coach waiting time is still several hours, but tourist cars are getting through okay," a spokesman for the port said.

“The Port of Dover is deeply frustrated by last night’s and this morning’s situation and particularly so on behalf of all the ferry operators’ coach passengers who have had to endure such a long wait at the port.

“Whilst freight and car traffic was processed steadily regardless of the additional challenging weather conditions and high seasonal volumes, coach traffic suffered significant delays due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume.

“Despite considerable pre-planning with our ferry operators, border agency partners and the Kent Resilience Forum, and the success of similar plans for processing substantial numbers of coaches during the most recent half-term period, the additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for Easter has impacted operations for the port.”

Port of Dover declares critical incident

Port of Dover declares critical incident

The port said food and drink has been provided to coach passengers in the queues, adding: “We offer our sincere apologies for the prolonged delays that people have endured and continue to work with all of our partners to get all passengers on their way as quickly as possible.”

Logistics company DFDS announced on Twitter just after 9pm on Friday that the wait time for coaches was approximately seven hours from arrival at the port.

Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the government to resolve the situation at Dover.

“I really feel for people trying to get through Dover. There will have been families who have booked holidays and now they are frustrated yet again and I think the nature of the frustration will be ‘not again’,” he said.

“This is not the first time there have been problems at Dover. The government needs to get a grip of this.

“You can’t have every summer holiday, every Easter holiday, the same old problem. And so the government needs to get a grip on this and actually help people out in who are just trying to get away for a few days holiday.”

Updated: April 03, 2023, 6:02 AM