Kent

Eurotunnel freight traffic delays extend to sixth day

Eurostar train Image copyright Reuters
Image caption "Single-line working" is in operation through the Channel Tunnel

Power supply problems in the Channel Tunnel have led to a sixth day of delays for cross-Channel traffic, with trains, roads and ferries affected.

Eurotunnel said it was "working round the clock" to return to a full timetable. The problems occurred after a fire in the tunnel on Saturday.

The disruption in east Kent has led to talks between local MPs and roads minister John Hayes.

Dover Council said the government had ordered an urgent review.

The review will look at the resilience of the road network in east Kent and its ability to cope with periods of severe congestion at Eurotunnel and the Channel ports.

Council leader Paul Watkins said it was unacceptable that east Kent communities were expected to bear the burden of what he said was a national issue.

He said: "The UK economy relies on Dover and the Channel Tunnel to keep the nation's trade moving.

"Yet time after time we are left isolated and cut off by the lack of resilience in the road network."

Mr Hayes said: "The Kent MPs brought this to my attention today and I fully understand the impact on the people of Kent.

"I have asked my officials to think quickly and creatively about ways that police, the Highways Agency and others can work together to tackle this problem."

'Seven-hour delays'

Eurotunnel said it was able to transport all pre-booked passenger car traffic, but would not be taking any new bookings.

John Keefe, Eurotunnel director of communications, told the BBC freight traffic was facing delays of up to seven hours.

On Thursday night, he estimated repairs would take a further 48 hours, including engineering work overnight and tests on Friday.

But he warned that when services started to return to normal, the company would still have to deal with "a backlog".

The fault was about 20 miles (32km) from the French coast and about 20 miles (32km) from the UK terminal, so equipment had to be moved some distance in a "complicated and lengthy" procedure, he said.

Travel

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BBC Travel reported delays on Eurostar services, Eurotunnel, DFDS Seaways and My Ferry Link.

Travellers experienced delays of up to 90 minutes on Eurostar services at London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International because of the ongoing power supply issues.

Lorries using Eurotunnel had to wait up to three-and-a-half hours to reach the Eurotunnel freight service, plus a two-hour wait for check-in and a further 90-minute wait at the terminal. Eurotunnel car passengers had a one-hour wait to check-in and a further one-hour wait on the terminal.

On the ferries, DFDS Seaways had delays of up to 90 minutes and My Ferry Link had delays of up to 40 minutes, with sailings by both companies affected by Channel Tunnel disruption.

M20 disruption

Kent Police said phase two of Operation Stack, in which lorries queue on parts of the M20 to ease congestion leading to the Port of Dover, was expected to remain in place until Saturday.

The Highways Agency said the M20 congestion remained severe with delays of more than three hours on the coastbound carriageway.

The agency has advised tourist traffic heading to Dover port and local traffic to use the M2 and A2.

BBC Travel said freight traffic was also queuing for the port on the A20, with long delays.

Problems with cross-Channel services developed after thousands of passengers were left stranded by a lorry fire on a train in the Channel Tunnel on Saturday.

The next day power supply problems led to the cancellation of 11 trains.

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