Operation Stack: Holidaymakers face long delays on M20 as Calais chaos thwarts last-minute getaways

Torrential rain was also forecast for today, adding to misery on the roads

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The Independent Travel

Holidaymakers trying to cross the English Channel from Kent are facing misery on the roads today with miles of traffic jams and torrential rain.

As the school holidays start for many parts of the country, thousands of people are starting their trips on the roads that could see flash flooding across south-eastern England.

Eurotunnel was warning drivers to allow for delays caused by “severe traffic congestion” on the way to its terminal at Folkestone.

One woman warned Channel Tunnel operators that the journey from junction 8 of the M20 to check-in – normally a 30-minute trip – took her two hours this morning.

Passengers are being diverted off the motorway and on to the A20 as it remains partly closed for queuing freight traffic.

Operation Stack, which has shut the M20 between junctions eight and 11 for stationary lorries, is expected to remain in place until Sunday at the earliest.

The migrant crisis in Calais and intermittent strike action by French ferry workers means truckers are spending hours stuck in Kent and northern France.

Authorities at the Port of Dover are advising holidaymakers to use an alternative route on the M2 and A2 and allow plenty of time for their journey.

Further delays hit cross-Channel services when the body of a teenager, suspected to be a migrant who died in a desperate attempt to reach the UK, was found on the roof of a Eurotunnel train in Folkestone yesterday.

LeShuttle operators warned of delays of up to an hour “due to migrant activity” this morning but said a full service was in operation.

Ferries operated by P&O were also delayed by between 50 minutes and an hour-and-a-half.

Travel to and from Calais has been affected by several crises this summer, including attempts by an estimated 5,000 migrants displaced from countries including Syria, Libya and Eritrea to cross to Britain.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron this month, saying the situation in Calais was “deplorable” and conditions for drivers had reached “unacceptable levels”.

Following repeated strikes by MyFerryLink workers that have seen the Channel Tunnel and port intermittently blocked, the French government has unveiled proposals to save hundreds of jobs and stop the industrial action.

Union officials said a decision would be made on Monday.

Additional reporting by PA