A road trip from Britain through France sounds like an appealing adventure – unless you’re one of the lorry drivers who has been stranded on the M20 in sweltering temperatures this week. Fortunately, the Dover to Calais ferry service has now reopened.
The disruption was the result of MyFerryLink workers, who were striking over threatened job losses. The owner of the service, Eurotunnel, is selling two of the company’s three ships to Danish cross-Channel ferry operator DFDS.
Thirty miles of the M20 in Kent, which leads to the ferries, has been at a standstill this week. The motorway has become a makeshift football pitch for bored truckers.
The emergency services and even the Red Cross had to attend, bringing water and supplies to some 3,500 drivers stuck in the jams.
As I have travelled to work each day this week, the messages on the gantries on the M25 have become ever more urgent, as larger and larger stretches of the M20 were shut off to traffic.
The cost of the strike to the British economy has been put at a staggering £250 million a day.
Nearer to home, the future of the ferry service between Newhaven and Dieppe remains under threat. Also run by DFDS, the sub-standard service struggles to make a profit. It survives largely thanks to subsidies from France’s Seine-Maritime département, but its generosity is not without limits.
“The cost of the strike to the British economy has been put at a staggering £250 million a day.”
In Kent, the backlog of trucks should be cleared today and it remains to be seen what happens next. More strikes are threatened and a summer of chaos at Dover and Calais cannot be ruled out. That is bad news for us all.
I am due to take the Eurostar to Paris on Wednesday and I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed that I will be able to make it over without disruption.