Good Fri­day grid­lock

Mo­tor­way chaos as mil­lions take to the roads for the Big Get­away

Daily Mail - - News - By An­drew Levy

BRITISh hol­i­day­mak­ers head­ing for France were hit by long de­lays yes­ter­day be­cause of height­ened se­cu­rity checks by the French at the start of the Easter week­end.

The tim­ing of the crack­down as mil­lions tried to get away for the hol­i­day was ques­tioned by an MP and those stuck in queues.

The de­lays were caused by French bor­der checks at Dover, part of the re­cip­ro­cal se­cu­rity ar­range­ments which al­low British of­fi­cials to check ve­hi­cles and pas­sen­gers leav­ing France. Thou­sands of pas­sen­gers at Stansted Air­port also had their travel plans thrown into chaos af­ter a shut­tle bus parked on the fore­court of the ter­mi­nal build­ing caught fire.

Parts of the air­port in Es­sex were evac­u­ated as plumes of thick black smoke bil­lowed from the ve­hi­cle be­fore the fire was put out at around 5pm. No one was in­jured, but dozens of flights were de­layed. In Dover, P&O Fer­ries said there were hold-ups of up to two hours at the port and fer­ries were held for as long as pos­si­ble to give pas­sen­gers time to get on board.

Long queues formed on the A20 and A2 into the Kent port and freight trucks had to park as part of a scheme to stag­ger their ar­rival at the port.

Dover MP Char­lie El­ph­icke said: ‘Fam­i­lies stuck in queues wait­ing to cross the Chan­nel will rightly ask why this is be­ing done on the busiest of days. It’s crit­i­cal to get traf­fic flow­ing faster. No one wants to see a re­peat of the huge queues and grid­lock we have seen in the past.’

Tom We­bzell, 74, of Mar­gate, who was trav­el­ling to Paris with his wife Chris­tine, 62, added: ‘It is usu­ally the French con­trollers on strike. It’s quite frus­trat­ing.’

A teacher lead­ing a school ski­ing trip of 50 pupils and six staff from Southamp­ton said the French bor­der of­fi­cials’ tim­ing was ‘petty’. The man, who did not want to be named, said: ‘They must know they are go­ing to cause max­i­mum dis­rup­tion. It is hard not to think it is some­thing to do with Brexit.’

Prob­lems had eased by lunchtime, although there were still queues of around an hour in­side the port.

Trans­port ex­perts ex­pect this week­end to be one of the busiest in years on roads, rail­ways and at air­ports. The RAC said around 19mil­lion leisure jour­neys would be made over Easter.

Can­celled rail ser­vices will cause wide­spread dis­rup­tion through­out the week­end, with no Thames­link trains be­tween Lon­don Bridge and Brighton and buses re­plac­ing trains on sev­eral other routes.

The As­so­ci­a­tion of British Travel Agents es­ti­mated that 2.1mil­lion Bri­tons would be head­ing abroad af­ter schools closed for the hol­i­days on Thurs­day.

Un­sus­pect­ing driv­ers are be­ing hit with park­ing fines of up to £120 on bank hol­i­days by coun­cils look­ing to in­crease rev­enue. Mo­torists, who may as­sume that park­ing is free on pub­lic holi­i­days, are be­ing urged to check if usual re­stric­tions still ap­ply.

‘Stuck in long queues’

Bus in flames: The fire out­side the main ter­mi­nal at Stansted Air­port

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