The Port of Dover has released details of a plan to smooth the passage of outbound coach traffic over the Easter period.
It follows a wretched time for coaches transiting Dover the previous weekend. Delays reached 24 hours at their worst because of extended passport processing times at the French border within the port. In a statement, the Port of Dover says that its approach for the Easter period has been agreed with stakeholders. It includes:
- Spreading projected peak coach numbers on Good Friday into a three-day period between Thursday 6 and Saturday 8 April
- Installation of additional “temporary border control infrastructure” as contingency for the processing of coaches, trial of which is underway ahead of the Easter weekend
- The issuing of advice to car and coach drivers not to arrive early for sailings.
Additionally, French border authorities will provide “a full complement of officials” to process outbound travellers, despite lower coach volumes expected than those seen the previous weekend. It is understood that part of the Dover Cruise Terminal will serve as an arrival point for all coaches before they board vessels.
DFDS previously warned of another busy period at Dover over Easter. In response to the Port’s preparations for that period, the carrier says that it is contacting coach operators booked to travel on its vessels from Dover to offer “extra flexibility to spread traffic across the weekend, and on both our two routes to France.”
In addition, DFDS says that additional staff will be on hand at ports concerned. Food and water for travellers will be on standby should it be required.
“We hope that shorter processing times for coach passengers can be achieved this weekend, and we are doing all we can in collaboration with the Port to reduce the pressure and bottlenecks at passport control. We expect a busy weekend, although coach volumes are lower than we saw last week.”
The Port of Dover has acknowledged that the weekend of 1-2 April “was a horrible situation for many travellers,” adding that its “top priority” is to improve things for Easter and significantly improve traffic throughput rates.
No mention of an imposition of reduced coach volumes is mentioned by the Port. It had been suggested in some circles as a possible remedy. The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) quickly came out against any such potential measures, describing them as “unacceptable.”
CPT has welcomed the preparation of plans by the Port of Dover for coaches ahead of the Easter weekend, but it has underlined its existing call for more coach priority measures. Additionally, it wants carriers Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries to “improve their passenger advance information.”