Operation Stack is being implemented on the coastbound carriageway of the M20 between Junctions 8 and 12.
It has been put in place as a contingency measure following the French government’s announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48 hours, and the subsequent closures of the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel.
In addition, the Department for Transport is preparing Manston ready to support the Kent Resilience Forum’s plans to manage disruption. Manston can accommodate up to 4,000 lorries, though the message to hauliers is to avoid travelling to Kent until further notice.
What is Operation Stack?
Operation Stack is where parts of the M20 are used to queue lorries travelling towards the continent, to avoid causing gridlock across Kent’s road network.
It is only introduced as an emergency measure after consultation with other agencies and implemented following a thorough assessment of issues, including safety concerns and disruption on the road network.
How does it work?
- Freight within Operation Stack is separated into two queues on either side of the carriageway (on the hard shoulder and lane 3) – one for tunnel traffic and one for port traffic.
- Space is left in the middle of the motorway to allow for emergency vehicles e.g. freight breaking down, medical emergencies etc.
- Queues are released when capacity is available.
- You may see stretches of the motorway clear from time to time as groups of freight are moved down the Operation Stack queue in stages when capacity becomes available.
- Non-freight traffic is filtered at the first junction that Operation Stack is implemented from and diverted onto the A20 to rejoin the M20 in front of the Operation Stack queue.
The diversion is A20 from Hollingbourne to Ashford, then follow ‘S’ on road signs along Templar Way and Chart Road, Brookfield Road, Beaver Lane, Kingsnorth Road, Norman Road, A2042 Romney Marsh Road, A2070 Bad Munstereifel Road, A2070 Link Road to M20 J10A, then A20 through Sellindge to M20 J11.
Why are more sections of the motorway closed in the early stages of Operation Stack?
When Operation Stack is first implemented there will be a significant queue of freight traffic which sometimes merges from the port to traffic for the Channel Tunnel.
In order to safely manage the freight traffic and place the operation on, there may be a need to close other slip roads leading to the port and the tunnel for a period of time.
Additional information for freight:
If you are carrying ‘quick to market’ goods, drivers are to present themselves to the police with a CMR note (proof of contract) as they join the back of Operation Stack.
Check with your operator
Contact your travel operator before setting off on your journey. Here are a few useful numbers:
Eurotunnel – call 08444 630000.
Eurostar – visit www.eurostar.com
The Port of Dover – call 01304 240 400 or visit www.doverport.co.uk
For the most up-to-date information:
• Check the Highways England website – https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/highways-england or follow @HighwaysSEAST on Twitter.
• Visit the Kent Police Twitter page – www.twitter.com/kent_police
• Check the KCC Highways website – www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel
• Visit www.eurotunnel.com
• Visit www.doverport.co.uk
Highways England, responsible for roads such as the M20, M2, A21, A2, A249 and A20, has stated: “Following the French Government’s announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48 hours we’re asking the public and particularly hauliers not to travel to Kent ports or other routes to France.
“We expect significant disruption in the area. We are working urgently with the Department for Transport, Kent Police and Kent County Council on contingency measures to minimise traffic disruption in the area.”
The government said that while they are expecting severe disruption in Kent, other ports facing France will also be impacted. As a result, it has immediately asked all hauliers to avoid all roll-on-roll-off routes to France, including Kent ports.
A Government spokesperson said: “We are expecting significant disruption in Kent following the announcement by the French Government that, from 11pm on Sunday, December 20, it will not accept any passengers from the UK for the next 48 hours.
“As a result we are urging everybody – including all hauliers – to avoid travelling to Kent ports until further notice.
“We are working closely with Kent Resilience Forum, Kent Council, Kent Police and Highways England to ensure contingency measures are urgently put in place to manage disruption, and the Prime Minister will chair a COBR meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation.”
Hauliers and their customers should delay shipments or seek other routes – unaccompanied freight to France and roll-on-roll-off services to other EU countries are not affected. The government has also said it will work hard to support those businesses impacted.