Blog post -
RAC advice for motorists heading to Dover and Folkestone
What is happening?
Motorists who are travelling to the Continent will have probably seen that industrial action by French workers and actions by those trying to enter the UK illegally have caused delays on the operation of cross-channel ferries, and to the Eurotunnel cross channel rail link. As a result of this, the most direct route to Dover or Folkestone via the M20 has been subject to closure to implement ‘Operation Stack’.
Operation Stack – M20 closures
|Phase 1||Coast-bound from junction 11 (Hythe) -12 (Cheriton)|
||Coast-bound from junction 8 (Maidstone) – 9 (Ashford)|
||London-bound from junction 9 (Ashford) – 8 (Maidstone)|
||Coast-bound from junction 8 (Maidstone) – 12 (Cheriton)|
When Operation Stack is in place, motorists heading to Europe will need to find alternative routes whether they are boarding the ferry at Dover or catching the Eurotunnel at Folkestone. The RAC route planner can help you with this. In the event of closure, the M2 provides an alternative route to Dover and Folkestone from the M25, though motorists should be warned that when Operation Stack is functional, the M2 and A2 are likely to be busier and delays should be expected. Motorists heading towards Folkestone should continue past Dover on the A259.
Motorists may also like to consider using the M26, leaving at junction 2a, and using the A20 towards Maidstone, connecting to the A249 and join the M2 at junction 5. Traffic around Maidstone will be particularly heavy and delays can be expected.
Motorists can also use the A20 as an alternative from junction 8-9 of the M20 but this is usually the busiest option with traffic related congestion causing motorists significant delays.
Red: M20 closed during Operation Stack (phases 1, 2 & 3)
Black: M20 closed during Operation Stack (phases 1-4)
Green: Alternative Routes
Orange: A256 busier than normal when Manston Airport is in use during
Manston Airport is located where the blue marker 1 is located on the map
Advice to Motorists:
- Plan ahead: Primarily, motorists are urged to plan their routes carefully and monitor for updates of when Operation Stack is operating. Motorists can find live updates on Operation Stack from Kent Police or from Highways England. Those travelling via Eurotunnel can find the latest information on their services on the Eurotunnel website. Social media may also provide useful tactical information on routes to choose or avoid at any particular time.
- Check with your operator: If ferry or Eurotunnel services are subject to delays and cancellations, motorists should contact the operator for any further status updates and information on departure times. We have provided some contact numbers and live links below for assistance.
- Allow plenty of extra time: Alternative routes to Dover on the M2, A2 and various other A-Roads will be considerably busier than normal, particularly during peak summer periods. Be prepared for delays in traffic and remember that it will take longer than normal to travel between service stations. Particular areas of heavy traffic can be expected around Rochester, Canterbury and Faversham and on the A20 around Maidstone and Folkestone.
- Avoid roads around Manston: In early August 2015, the Government announced Manston Airport would operate as a temporary parking area for HGVs during Operation Stack. As such, motorists should be warned that the A256 from Manston to Dover will be more congested than normal and should be avoided whenever possible.
Advice from other organisations:
Port of Dover advises motorists: “Tourist traffic heading for the Port of Dover is strongly advised to use the A2/M2. Routes are expected to be busy so please allow plenty of time for your journey.”
Foreign Office advice: “Check online with your chosen operator and plan your journey to avoid disruption. See this information on the situation. Information about alternative routes and operators is available via this interactive map.
There are large numbers of illegal migrants in and around Calais, who may seek to enter the UK illegally. You should keep vehicle doors locked in slow moving traffic and secure your vehicle when it is left unattended.”
Contact numbers and delays checker
Port of Dover Twitter feed can advise on estimated delay times
Eurotunnel Twitter feed
P&O Ferries Twitter feed
Kent Police Twitter feed
P&O Ferries contact number: +44 (0) 8716 64 64 64, and for freight on +44 (0) 1304 863 340
DFDS Seaways contact number: call +44 (0) 208 127 8303 for tourists, and for freight +44 (0) 871 230 0440
RAC Breakdown: 0333 2000 999 (mobile friendly)
Notes to Editors
Our dedicated line for journalists is +44 (0)1454 664 123. Please note: the press office is unable to help with individual customer enquiries - please visit the RAC contacts page for the right number to call.
ISDN radio studio facilities are available for interviews Monday to Friday.
About the RAC
The RAC provides complete peace of mind to 12m UK private and business drivers, whatever their motoring needs. Its services include:
- Breakdown assistance. Its highly-skilled, 1,600-strong branded patrol workforce attends more than two million breakdowns every year, fixing on average four out of five vehicles at the roadside. The RAC’s patrol fleet is one of the most advanced in the UK, and was the first to roll out both an All-Wheels-Up recovery system, allowing the vast majority of vehicles to be recovered from a single patrol van, and EV Boost mobile electric vehicle charging units
- Insurance. The RAC is a top-five car insurance broker having surpassed the 500,000 policies-in-force milestone in 2018. It also offers ‘black box’ telematics policies, as well as home and travel insurance
- Other motoring services. The RAC leads in the development of new solutions for business, fleets, electric vehicles and future car technology. Its additional products and services include a personal loans offering, a used car buying website, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information. It also has a network of Approved Dealers and Approved Garages which combine the trust of RAC brand with local service and convenience
The RAC also works to support the interests of its members and UK drivers on the most important motoring issues which it identifies via the annual RAC Report on Motoring and the RAC Opinion Panel. The Report on Motoring is the longest running analysis of driver opinion in the UK having been published every year since 1989.
For more information about the RAC, visit the RAC website.