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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Emily Atkinson

Operation Brock: M20 queuing system scaled back ahead of Easter getaway


Parts of the M20 have reopened just one week after a new queuing system was put in place to deal with heavy congestion on routes to cross-Channel ports.

National Highways said it was scaling back Operation Brock, which saw lorries heading to Dover queue on one side of the motorway, “in light of the reducing threat of disruption to services across the English Channel.”

Measures were triggered to control the movement of HGVs in the area and relieve the congestion made worse by the suspension of P&O services, which has been partly blamed for the long queues.

Dover-Calais sailings by P&O Ferries were still suspended as of Thursday night, which caused large tailbacks of lorries forming on roads approaching the Port of Dover throughout the day.

Lorries queue in Operation Brock on the M20 near Ashford in Kent (PA)

National Highways said junctions 10a and 11 on the coastbound M20 reopened on Friday. Junctions 8 and 9 are expected to follow subject to traffic conditions.

Nicky Potts of National Highways said: “Scaling it back now is a sensible response to the changing outlook and restores capacity on the motorway in time for the weekend.”

Kent ports have been subject to delays as a result of several factors in the past few weeks.

Earlier this month, the area was plunged into traffic chaos, with gridlocked roads near the port caused by disruption to cross-Channel ferries and bad weather.

Delays to Channel crossings are being driven by the suspension of P&O Ferries sailings after the operator sacked nearly 800 seafarers without notice (PA)

The new IT system for customs checks also encountered problems at the Britain’s busiest port in the wake of Brexit.

Another traffic management system, the Dover Traffic Access Protocol (TAP) scheme - where lorries heading to the port queue on the left side of the A20 outside the town - was also implemented to ease the lorry jams.

According to the Kent Resilience Forum, Operation Brock normally has the capacity for about 2,000 lorries, but it has been holding up to 4,000.

Typically, the scheme asks HGVs to queue between junctions eight and nine on the M20 southbound, while the northbound carriageway operates as a contraflow. But Brock was extended to junction 11 to manage with the swelling congestion.

Lorries on the M20 near Folkestone in Kent (PA)

It comes as millions of drivers are expected on the roads on Good Friday in what is predicted to be the busiest travel day of the Easter weekend, which is likely exacerbate the hold-ups.

An estimated 4.62 million journeys are likely to be made across the UK, with a further 22.48 million across the bank holiday weekend in what could be the busiest in years, according to the RAC.

More delays are predicted following travel mayhem on Thursday - as well as passengers at airports and train stations left waiting for hours in long queues.

On top of all the travel disruption, supplies of petrol and diesel at filling stations in some areas of the country have been at around half their usual level as the UK’s travel network comes under pressure.

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