Delays return to Port of Dover at start of Easter getaway

Traffic at the Port of Dover in Kent as the getaway begins for the Easter weekend. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Holidaymakers booked on cross-Channel ferries from the Port of Dover are facing delays at the start of the Easter getaway.

Queues for passport checks by French officials at the Kent port are “up to 60 minutes”, ferry operator DFDS wrote on Twitter.

The company told passengers: “Unfortunately due to high volumes of traffic there are queues at border controls.

“Once you arrive at check-in we will get you away as quick as we can.”

In response, one passenger wrote at 9.25am: “We have been standing for 50 minutes. No movement whatsoever.”

There are fears travellers at Dover will face more disruption after chaotic scenes last weekend when thousands of people were delayed, reportedly by up to 14 hours.

Delays at the port have been blamed on French border officials carrying out extra checks and stamping UK passports following Brexit.

Port officials said they held a “urgent review” with ferry operators and the French authorities in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last weekend’s delays.

Ferry companies are asking coach operators booked on sailings on Good Friday – expected to be the busiest day for outbound Easter travel from Dover – to “spread the travel” across the three-day period from Thursday to Saturday.

Additional “temporary border control infrastructure” has also been installed.

The queues are building just days after a critical incident was declared at the port due to severe delays. Credit: PA

Transport minister Richard Holden described last weekend's conditions at Dover as "unacceptable".

He told Sky News: "I don't want to see kids on coaches or families in cars queueing up and waiting unnecessarily long periods of time."

Asked who should apologise for the situation, he added: "The port have made it clear that there is a difficult situation there, but there were some weather-related issues in the Channel as well, and there are going to be pinch points at peak times of the year, and small things can knock those best-laid plans off as well."

Meanwhile, drivers have been warned to expect long delays on popular routes over the coming days.

The RAC is predicting that up to 17 million leisure trips by car will take place between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Major roads in south-west England and some in the Home Counties are likely to experience the worst congestion on Good Friday.

Queues are likely to be increased by engineering work on the railways, including the closure of London Euston station over the bank holiday weekend.