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Operation Stack lifted

By KentOnline reporter

The M20 has reopened between Junctions 8 and 9 - as Operation Stack finally ends.

More than a day after strike action at Calais ended, the long queues were cleared just after midnight.

A police statement today said the motorway was reopened to all traffic just after 1am.

An unusual view of Op Stack. Picture: @kentpoliceroads
An unusual view of Op Stack. Picture: @kentpoliceroads

It comes after a fire on the tracks near the Channel Tunnel caused further misery for drivers caught in Operation Stack, with lorries queuing past junction 7 on the M20.

Sailings resumed following the Calais workers' protests and the Channel Tunnel reopened after protesting French ferry workers got on to the tracks.

However, some DFDS Seaways sailings we're cancelled, with passengers at Dover placed on to Dunkirk sailings.

Operation Stack in effect on the M20
Operation Stack in effect on the M20

Earlier on Tuesday Eurotunnel suspended services "for safety reasons" after protesters stormed the passenger terminal in Calais, and a fire broke out near the tunnel.

Cables used by Eurostar services were apparently damaged by the blaze, and engineers worked through the night to carry out repairs.

Natalie Chapman from the Freight Transport Association said: "At least the lorry drivers on this side of the channel are safe. Our real concern is for drivers on the French side of Channel, where we've seen migrants swarming over lorries trying to get to the UK.

"It's a terrifying experience when the lorries are swarmed by migrants.

"They are absolutely desperate and in many cases have travelled a long way to get to Calais. They are not going to let a lock and a bit of water get in their way."

The association says the delays caused by the strike will be costing hauliers dearly.

Ms Chapman said: "It causes havoc to schedules, to drivers' hours rules. We miss deliveries and with certain fresh produce it's spoilt if it's not delivered on time.

"It costs about £1 a minute to run an HGV so if you look at the number of lorries tuck in that queue it's a lot of money."

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins yesterday branded the French handling of the situation as "shameful".

Workers threatened with redundancy are behind the strikes.

A Eurotunnel spokesman said despite the dramatic scenes, the protests had only affected a small part of the terminal, and demonstrations had been positioned in order to attract maximum media interest.

The spokesman said: "We are working to clear the backlog overnight, and will be checking every single truck that presents itself at the terminal to see if any migrants have got on board.

"We understand emotions are running high and we want to see calm prevail."

A fire caused delays at Calais. Picture: @chriscary180605
A fire caused delays at Calais. Picture: @chriscary180605
Eurotunnel services from Folkestone to France
Eurotunnel services from Folkestone to France

One lorry driver tweeted a picture of tyres ablaze, claiming the strikers had set fire to a road in Calais to block access to the port.

Phase 2 of Op Stack was put in place just before 12pm yesterday, which turns the coastbound carriageway between J8 for Leeds and J9 for Ashford into a lorry park.

Michael Croome of Lenham haulier Croome International Transport Ltd had one of his 15-strong fleet of lorries stuck in the queue for several hours.

He said: "We take each hour as it comes but we understand the strike will go on until 10pm so we expect things will deteriorate.

"We are an international transport company so if we can't ship out we can't travel to Italy or deliver goods back. It is very bad for us."

Non-freight traffic was being diverted onto the A20 from J8 and told to rejoin the motorway at J9.

P&O Ferries
P&O Ferries
Dover docks
Dover docks

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke yesterday said he was "disappointed" to hear that industrial action had caused chaos for the port.

Traffic will be held outside of Dover until the port has space to accommodate the vehicles.
Traffic will be held outside of Dover until the port has space to accommodate the vehicles.

He told KentOnline: "This will be a test of the new TAP system and I am hopeful that drivers will be able to continue in and around Dover despite the chaos caused by Calais."

The TAP system was introduced in April and included the introduction of a traffic easing system in a bid to keep Dover's roads clear.

Lorries heading for Calais via Dover's Eastern Docks. File image
Lorries heading for Calais via Dover's Eastern Docks. File image

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