Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow And Strikes Create Chaos For Cross Channel Freight

Eurostar Service Suspended and Dover and Calais Closed
Shipping News Feature

UK / FRANCE – Adverse weather has caused mayhem on the cross-channel routes after the freezing temperatures caused four Eurostar trains to break down, stranding around two thousand people in the channel tunnel, some for up to twelve hours. Eurostar have stated that services will not resume until midday at the earliest.

The weather has also caused both the Ports of Calais and Dover, two of the primary ferry terminals for cross-channel freight, to be closed. Kent police have started Operation Stack, the procedure they enact where they convert the M20 motorway into a massive truck park until the disruption is cleared. All motorists are being advised to avoid the motorway if at all possible or face massive delays.

In addition to the chaos created by the weather, problems have been compounded by four hundred UK Border Agency staff who work the immigration controls in France conducting a one-day strike at the ports of Dunkirk, Coquelles and Boulogne. The dispute always threatened to create disruption on what was expected to be one of the busiest weekends of the year on the channel routes, but in combination with the adverse weather the action is causing additional delays.

The hazards for trucks extend away from the channel area. Blizzards have caused more than seventy lorries to get stuck on the A120 leading out of the Port of Harwich in Essex, which serves a number of destinations in Europe. Other vehicles were also trapped on the A12 northbound at Colchester, a major route between the port and London.

The various problems are causing major aggravation for haulage companies engaged on cross-channel haulage, many of whose drivers would now be heading home either in the UK or Europe after completing their last drops before the Christmas holiday.