Travel chaos costs freight industry £0.75M a day

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

The Calais area should be made a strike-free zone: FTA
The Calais area should be made a strike-free zone: FTA

Related tags Channel tunnel

Travel chaos caused on both sides of the channel by striking French ferry workers is costing the UK freight industry £750,000 a day, as another fatal trans-channel accident was reported on Friday.

The delays caused by striking French ferry workers and illegal migrants who try to board queuing vehicles have now been exacerbated by protesting farmers, warned the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The result was that truck drivers – some transporting highly perishable fruit and vegetables – were hours stuck in queues in Operation Stack on the M20 in Kent and on routes around the Pas de Calais region.

‘Value of goods lost’

FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said the problem had assumed national significance. “Given the value of goods lost and the subsequent cost to business, these figures show that Operation Stack is not just an issue for Kent and the south east of England but a serious national strategic problem.  

“This is the country’s GDP​ [gross domestic product] and exports standing still in these horrendous queues caused by the situation in Calais.”

The FTA boss said it was “not acceptable” ​that industrial action in France had been allowed to cause such chaos, with direct implications for the British economy. “Calais has to be made a strike free-zone so that cross-Channel traffic can start moving again and Operation Stack can be lifted as soon as possible.”

Revolting French farmers – protesting about the low prices of milk and meat – closed main routes between Calais and the south of France by setting fire to tyres.

Freight services through the Channel Tunnel were suspended, after 100 migrants were prevented from trying to get into Britain.

How to end Calais chaos

“Calais has to be made a strike-free zone, so that cross-Channel traffic can start moving again and Operation Stack can be lifted as soon as possible.”

  • James Hookham, FTA

Chaos is expected tomorrow

There was more chaos on Saturday July 25, the busiest holiday get-away weekend of the year, before the queues were cleared yesterday.

On Friday trrucks were stacked in a 35-mile queue on the M20 and cross-Channel services reported delays, said the FTA.

Kent County Council hosted a meeting in Maidstone, where the FTA, Eurotunnel, Kent Police and other organisations sought solutions to the crisis.

Repeated closures of the M20 motorway, near junctions 8 and 9 have left lorries gridlocked over recent weeks.

The body of a young person​ was found on top of a Eurotunnel train early on Friday. The discovery follows the death of migrant​, while trying to board a freight train near Calais on July 7.

Meanwhile, Eurotunnel has reported nightly incursions by hundreds of migrants at the French end of the channel tunnel. Up to 5,000 migrants are said to resident in the Calais area waiting for an opportunity to travel to the UK.

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