December 6, 2023

The Port of Dover has decided to stagger coaches over three days to avoid the delays of more than 12 hours last weekend at the start of the Easter break. The decision was made after talks with ferry operators.

A temporary marquee will also be put up to help process coach passengers before crossing the border.

Good Friday is expected to be the busiest day of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend for coaches embarking on cross-Channel trips from the port.

Officials at the Port of Dover said this resulted from its “urgent review” after “horrible” delays last weekend.

The port said that to “reduce coach volumes” on that day, ferry operators DFDS, Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries are “working with their coach customers to spread the travel” across the three-day period.

Last Friday, a critical incident was declared by Dover after long queues of traffic trying to board ferries built up.

Some coach passengers ended up waiting for more than 12 hours.

The port said all three companies had been “working with their coach customers” to spread the volume of traffic.

The number of coaches travelling through the port is expected to be a third lower than last weekend.

The port advised coach and car drivers not to arrive too early to avoid adding to queues and creating bottlenecks.

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The Port of Dover also said the facilities “for processing coach passengers will also be temporarily expanded via a marquee installed in addition to the existing coach hall for departing passengers”.

DFDS said it was contacting coach and group operators to “amend bookings where possible”.

It said: “We will have additional staff available to assist passengers at the ports and we will have food and water for passengers on standby in case it is needed.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport, the trade body for coach and bus companies, welcomed the changes but said ferry firms needed to improve advanced information.

Graham Vidler, chief executive of the coach sector trade association the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said: “We are pleased the Port of Dover has listened to our calls to bring in more frontier staff, but we still need ferry operators to improve their passenger advance information and for the port to introduce more coach priority measures.

“While the traffic this weekend through the port will be smoothed out with no limits on vehicles, coach operators will work with the ferry companies to adjust sailing times where that is possible.

“We hope the measures put in place at Dover will improve things for all road users and we will be watching the situation carefully to ensure continental coach travel through Dover can continue to thrive.”


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