Minimal delays on roads to Dover but getaway traffic in South West hit by queues

The AA said its first ‘amber traffic warning’ remains in place until 3pm on Friday and between 11am and 3pm on Saturday.

29 July 2022

Holidaymakers heading towards the south and south-west of England are facing mounting congestion on the roads.

The AA said its first “amber traffic warning” remains in place until 3pm on Friday and between 11am and 3pm on Saturday.

This is due to a combination of the first switchover days for holiday lets during the school summer holidays in England and Wales, a rail strike, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the start of the Football League season in England.

Port of Dover
Authorities have worked ‘around the clock’ to clear both freight and tourist traffic in Dover, the port said (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Fears of a repeat of last week’s horrendous delays on roads approaching the Port of Dover and Folkestone proved unfounded, but queues are building on routes towards the south and south-west of England.

Traffic is slow-moving on the M4/M5 interchange near Bristol, the M3 near Winchester, Hampshire and the A303 past Stonehenge, Wiltshire.

There are also delays on several sections of the M25.

Disruption is still occurring on the M55/M6 interchange and nearby roads north of Preston, Lancashire following a lorry fire earlier on Friday.

Hold-ups have also been recorded on roads surrounding Birmingham and Manchester.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “Our amber traffic warning remains in place as the summer holiday season continues, so drivers should be prepared to encounter congestion.

“We are really pleased that Dover and Folkestone are at minimal disruption and we don’t have repeats of the jams last week.

“This is testament to the work of the Kent Resilience Forum and others who put changes in place earlier in the week.

“However, routes to the South West are particularly busy at the moment so people should have plenty of water and food in their cars just in case the worst happens.

“Saturday traffic may be busier as holidaymakers mix with those affected by rail strikes, as well as people attending sporting events such as EFL (Englsih Football League) Championship matches, Liverpool V Man City at the King Power Stadium (in Leicester) and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.”

Tens of thousands of families saw the start of their cross-Channel journeys ruined last weekend as the roads approaching Dover were gridlocked, leading to delays of several hours.

This was blamed on a shortage of French border officers and a serious crash on the M20.

The operation was much smoother on Friday morning, with P&O Ferries saying there were “no queues at border controls and traffic is free-flowing through the port”.

Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said on Thursday that French border controls will be “fully resourced”, which will make a “fundamental difference”.

The port expects to welcome around 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday.

National Highways, which manages England’s motorways and major A roads, said: “Drivers travelling in and around Kent are advised to plan ahead as this weekend is likely to be extremely busy.

“Operation Brock contraflow remains in place on the M20 and is part of a series of measures to improve Kent’s resilience and ensure the smooth flow of traffic through the region in the event of disruption to services across the English Channel.”

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