Protests by French farmers and sailors add to Channel chaos

July 25, 2015 8:01 pm

 

Trucks are parked on both sides of the M20 motorway in Kent. Photo / AFP

Protests by French farmers and sailors, desperate migrants and
traffic chaos is causing major disruptions on both sides of the English
Channel. Desperate migrants try to board trucks and trains stalled at the Eurotunnel.
Eurotunnel warned yesterday that passengers heading to
from England faced delays of up to four hours after “migrant
activity”.
Services on both sides of the Channel were initially suspended but resumed subject to delays.
The cross-Channel rail operator has said police were being called each night to remove migrants from its Coquelles base.
Passenger and freight services were delayed on Friday on one of the busiest days for holiday travel.
Eurotunnel
said the migrant activity was well organised and planned, with people
so desperate to reach the UK they were prepared to throw themselves at
trains travelling at 145km/h.
On Thursday, the body of a teenager was found on a train at the Eurotunnel terminal in Kent.

Lorries have been parked on the M20 in Kent for a total of 19 days over the past three months in Operation Stack.
The
operation means that lorries waiting to reach France are parked on the
M20 in Kent, with the motorway closed to non-freight traffic between
junctions eight and 11.

Migrants openly board queued trucks. Photo / EPA
Migrants openly board queued trucks. Photo / EPA

James Hookham, from the Freight Transport Association, said the delays were costing 750,000 ($1.8 million) every day.
“It’s
a big number and it’s certainly of national significance because what
is in that queue is the exports of the United Kingdom,” he told the BBC.
“It’s not just a Kent and southeast England problem. What we’re looking at is delays and costs to the whole economy.”
MPs, Kent County Council, Kent police, cross-Channel operators and hauliers are discussing how to deal with the disruption.
Damian
Green, the Conservative MP for Ashford and former minister,
said: “It ought to be possible to protect the Eurotunnel terminal at
Coquelles — that is not an impossible policing task.
I know our Government is urging very hard the French Government to meet its responsibilities there.”
It is thought there are now about 5000 migrants in Calais.
Hundreds
of protesting French sailors earlier this week forced the suspension of
Eurotunnel services between France and Britain in both directions after
torching tyres on the tracks, causing traffic and travel chaos.
The
demonstrations also sparked a scramble among some of the thousands of
illegal migrants camped in Calais hoping to reach Britain, as they
battled to hitch a ride on vehicles stuck in traffic.
About 200
MyFerryLink workers who had forced their way on to the tracks were later
cleared out by French riot police using tear gas canisters.
The
sailors, who were from the French ferry company MyFerryLink, were
protesting plans by Eurotunnel to sell two of their ferries to rival
firm DFDS.
Eurotunnel announced in May it was halting its
operational partnership with MyFerryLink due to legal complications, and
this month decided to sell its ferries to Danish group DFDS.

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