Move over, Dover: Folkestone becomes centre of 'holiday hell' amid huge Eurotunnel queues

24 July 2022, 14:48 | Updated: 24 July 2022, 15:48

Queues are snaking around the M20 near Folkestone after it became the epicentre of "holiday hell"
Queues are snaking around the M20 near Folkestone after it became the epicentre of "holiday hell". Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Folkestone has become the centre of "holiday hell" as drivers clog a motorway leading to the Eurotunnel.

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The coastal town has become the epicentre of getaway chaos that's started since most schools in England and Wales broke up for summer.

It takes the unwanted title from Dover, where traffic levels are back to normal after two days of hours-long queues and congestion.

Motorists travelling to the Eurotunnel have been warned to bring food, water and entertainment for any children they are with. One family spoke of how they had to endure a 21-hour ordeal triggered by the queues.

And Kent Police said they had fined over 100 HGV drivers over the last 48 hours for attempting to jump the queue.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: "Dover has now recovered, but Folkestone has become the hotspot of holiday hell.

"Drivers are now trying to find alternative routes down to the Eurotunnel terminal at J11a on the M20.

Huge queues emerged on Saturday
Huge queues emerged on Saturday. Picture: Alamy

"Holidaymakers are trying to use the M2 and then find ways to 'drop down' into the A20 and the terminal via the back roads.

"Drivers heading to Folkestone need to be prepared. We have seen that many are waiting for several hours before they get to the terminal, so all the pre-journey vehicle checks are key along with carrying plenty of food, water and entertainment for younger travellers."

Read more: Liz Truss calls for 'more action' from France as families face 11-hour queues in Dover

Manesh Luthra, a father of three, left Essex with his family at 4am on Saturday and got to the Eurotunnel terminal by 5.45am ahead of their 7.50am train.

But he told the BBC: "We joined the back of the queue for what was the worse 21 hours experienced.

"We moved metres in hours."

They considered packing the holiday in and other drivers were cutting in, he said.

Big queues built up around Folkestone
Big queues built up around Folkestone. Picture: Alamy

"It was savage, I was worried there would be an accident," he added.

Eventually the family got to France at 10pm, travelled for two more hours but had to stop in Rouen because they were exhausted before carrying on to their holiday spot.

"I'm calm now but at various points we all broke down," he said.

Read more: Holidaymakers' fury at Dover's 'critical incident' as six-hour queues blamed on French

Eurotunnel wrote on Twitter: "You may experience a longer journey than normal today. We are doing our best to get you to France as quickly as we can.

"If you turn up late for your booked departure, we will get you on the next available service."

The coast-bound side of the M20 has been closed for non-freight traffic between junctions 8 and 12.

To the east of Folkestone, travellers hoping to use the ferries at Dover should have a much better experience than fellow travellers on Friday and Saturday.

Queues spanning six hours were reported and one family was forced into 11 hours of traffic just to make the trip over the Channel.

British officials blamed French understaffing on Friday for the chaos, while other critics said it was a consequence of increased post-Brexit checks. Both elements were noted by Doug Bannister, the port's CEO.