Port of Dover critical incident: Warning issued as coach passengers face massive delays - latest update

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A critical incident has been declared at the Port of Dover with coach passengers facing 12-hour delays as the Easter holiday began.

Coach passengers are facing massive delays at Dover with many complaining of being stuck at the port for more than 12 hours on Saturday morning (April 1). The incident, which has been declared as ‘critical’, was reportedly caused by poor weather and lengthy processing periods.

According to the BBC, a port official said approximately 70 coaches were waiting to be processed since the early hours as the Easter holiday began. People have since taken their frustrations to social media, saying their children on school coach trips had been stuck at the port for more than 12 hours.

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A spokesperson said they were “deeply frustrated”, particularly on behalf of ferry operators’ coach passengers “who have had to endure such a long wait.” They added freight and car traffic was being processed steadily but coach traffic has suffered major delays due to lengthy French border processes at Dover and sheer volume.

In a Twitter update at 9am, DFDS said coaches are being released in batches from Stop 24 to the Eastern Docks but wait times vary. It said: “But as soon as the coach reaches the DFDS check-in, we will transfer to the first available service.” The port also said food and drink had been provided to stranded coach passengers.

This is not the first time the port has been plagued with major queues. Last year, a critical incident was also declared in Dover for the same reasons at Easter. This year, the port said despite considerable pre-planning, the additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for the holiday has impacted operations.

In its own Twitter update, P&O Ferries stressed that it had "no control" over the border checks, but that coaches would be on "the next crossing to Calais after clearing check-in".

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A spokesperson for DFDS earlier apologised for the wait times - which were blamed on bad weather delaying sailings - as well as "high volumes of traffic... particularly coach groups".

One parent tweeted: “My daughter’s been on a bus since 10am yesterday morning and will now lose the first night of her trip due to this. She is tired and hasn’t eaten since yesterday lunchtime with no proper food provided, what you have made these kids endure isn’t acceptable.”

Coach passengers are facing major delays at Port Of Dover. (Picture by Getty Images)Coach passengers are facing major delays at Port Of Dover. (Picture by Getty Images)
Coach passengers are facing major delays at Port Of Dover. (Picture by Getty Images) | Getty Images

Another said: “It is shocking. We’re here and there are about 11 other buses penned in with us. Zero info. We’re given crisps, choc bar, water at 9pm, that’s it. So many school trips - those poor children & there’s me trying to do my bit for the environment by not flying…”

Port of Dover updates - what we know so far

8.35am - According to DFDS, car traffic is “very busy” with a wait time of up to 120 minutes to pass through controls and check-in. It said: “Please take this into consideration when embarking on your journey. On arrival at DFDS check in, we will get you away on the next available departure.”

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9.27am - Dover - Calais Services: Due to the traffic in Dover port DFDS will be operating a cross channel shuttle service where all passengers will be shipped on the first available departure upon arrival at check in.

9.29am - Freight and tourist traffic is busy with queues in the buffer zone and through controls.

9.29am - P&O Ferries apologise for the wait times for coaches sailing from Dover. It said it is currently taking approximately two to three hours for coaches to clear the relevant checks before passengers can be on the next crossing to Calais.

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