High winds adding to disruptions, with waiting times on the French side of the Channel Tunnel of two and a half hours
Road hauliers continue to be confronted with major delays at the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel's Calais terminal today as French customs officers continue their work-to rule protest which began on March 4 against what they claim to be “inadequate” measures announced by the government to accommodate a hard Brexit.
“Unfotunately, the situation remains extreme and we are having to deal with delays of 8-10 hours this week,” Robert Kepplers, commercial director at Jan de Rijk, which operates pan-European road services for air cargo, told Lloyd's Loading List.
“On top of the customs officers’ action, the bad weather has caused additional delays. We continue to try and find the best solution for our customers by booking alternative routes, but longer journey times can't be avoided. As a result, airlines are looking for alternative gateways rather than going to the UK.”
According to Eurotunnel’s latest service update, waiting times for trucks to check-in on its freight shuttle from Calais to Folkestone stands at six hours as it did yesterday, but traffic is “fluid” on the Folkestone-Calais leg.
"With the combination of strikes by French customs officers and the storm blowing in the Channel, there is a considerable amount of disruption to traffic flow in the Hauts de France (formerly Nord-Pas de Calais) region," Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe told Lloyd's Loading List.
"As far as we are concerned it is taking trucks about 2h30 to get from the motorway to our check in and through the customs controls at present. But our service is running smoothly with six departures per hour and we are carrying all of the traffic that presents itself. It may take longer due to the controls, but we are still carrying it.”
He said freight customers are being advised of the waiting times so that they can plan the extended delivery times necessary as a result of the customs controls being stepped up.
‘Operation Stack’ has been operating today in the UK, due mainly to the high winds, to deal with potential tailbacks of trucks on the roads leading up to Dover and on the UK side of the Channel Tunnel.
Keefe said Operation Stack was having no impact on traffic through the Channel Tunnel from the UK side, noting: “We are in free-flow for freight, with no waiting time.”
Meanwhile, at the Port of Calais, customs officers are carrying out “in-depth checks on an intermittent basis", according to spokesperson for the port, who added: “Traffic remains very heavy but we are managing to load a maximum of trucks onto ferries during the periods when the customs staff have lifted their work-to-rule regime. At the moment, weather conditions are adding to the difficulties."