In pictures: More travel chaos as Folkestone dubbed 'hotspot of holiday hell'

·4-min read
Vehicles queue to enter the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone, Britain, July 24, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Folkestone was described as the new 'hotspot of holiday hell' on Sunday after queues shifted to the Eurotunnel rather than for ferries at Dover. (Reuters)

Folkestone was described as the latest 'hotspot of holiday hell' on Sunday as queues of motorists starting their summer getaway built up around the town, replacing Dover as the focus of delays.

For the past few days, the spotlight has been on Dover as people queued to cross the Channel via ferry.

But on Sunday congestion had been alleviated after a huge effort by border and ferry staff to clear the backlog, allowing services at the port to return to normal.

Instead, motorists heading for the Eurotunnel at Folkestone reported miles of tailbacks and hours of delays as they encountered similar problems.

Traffic queuing on the M20 near Folkestone in Kent, as families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Picture date: Friday July 22, 2022.
Attention has shifted to Folkestone, where traffic continued to queue on Sunday after starting to build up on Friday. (PA)

The AA's head of roads policy Jack Cousens said many motorists had waited for several hours, saying initially on Sunday: "Dover has now recovered, but Folkestone has become the hotspot of holiday hell."

The congestion eased throughout the afternoon, but he warned that there could be repeats of the chaotic scenes later in the summer.

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Cousens added: "This has been an incredible weekend of traffic jams into Dover and Folkestone, and holidaymakers will have been frustrated and angry at the delays.

"Good progress has been made throughout the day and those waiting for more than five hours before reaching the check-in desk has fallen considerably. We hope that by tonight we should be back to usual traffic levels.

"However, we are concerned that we could be in for a repeat of this congestion across the summer.

"Drivers due to use both Dover and Folkestone to head into Europe on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday mornings between now and the reopening of schools may see a repetition of these delays across the summer."

Members of the Coast Guard hand out bottled water to vehicles queuing to enter the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone, Britain, July 24, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Members of the Coast Guard handed out bottled water to vehicles queuing to enter the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone as holidaymakers faced hours of delays. (Reuters)

One man travelling with his wife and two children on Sunday said they had been stuck for eight hours in the car before boarding a train.

Images showed members of the coast guard handing out bottled water to queuing vehicles as holidaymakers waited to enter the Eurotunnel terminal.

Elsewhere, Sky News reported that one passenger claimed they had queued for 14 hours, while others said they had set off in the middle of the night to try to make sure they caught their trains.

In contrast, queues at the Port of Dover had been reduced to an hour on Sunday following travel chaos that was blamed on extra post-Brexit border checks and French authorities’ understaffing of checkpoints in Dover.

These pictures show long queues for Eurostar from St Pancras today (Sun) - as delays hit rail links to France as well as ferries. See SWNS story SWOCeurostar. Frustrated travellers say there were over 1,000 people queueing from around 10am to 11am. They said the queue went from each end of the station  - about 250 metres - and people were waiting outside one point. One traveller said: ''A station announcement apologised for delays, saying, ‘due to tighter rules for travel and enhanced COVID checks, the checking process is taking longer than usual’.
There were long queues for Eurostar from St Pancras in London on Sunday. (SWNS)

Images also showed long queues for Eurostar services at St Pancras on Sunday, as delays also hit rail links.

Frustrated travellers said there were over 1,000 people queueing from around 10am to 11am, with the queue snaking through the station.

One traveller said: "A station announcement apologised for delays, saying, 'Due to tighter rules for travel and enhanced COVID checks, the checking process is taking longer than usual.'

"It took me about an hour from joining the queue to reach the departure lounge, which was packed with hundreds of people. Quite a lot of passengers obviously stressed and confused.

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"In fairness, staff were on hand and being quite helpful with questions and organising the queue.

"At passport control Brits/non-EU holders were sent to manned booths rather than those automatic scanning ones.

"I counted nine French border officials checking/stamping passports - all the passport booths were occupied from what I could see.

"COVID passports were also scanned manually by Eurostar staff before getting to passport control."

Watch: Passengers wait in line 'for hours on end' at Heathrow Airport

Travel chaos has dominated the headlines for the past few weeks, with flights from various UK airports delayed and cancelled as people rushed to head off on their summer holidays.

At the weekend, it was reported that London Southend Airport had contacted airlines offering to host flights being cancelled by busier airports.

It comes after Heathrow capped the number of passengers allowed to use the airport to 100,000 per day until 11 September after coming under fire for long queues and baggage delays.

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