April 5, 2023 5.00 pm This story is over 14 months old

Dover chaos: Lincolnshire coach driver’s nightmare 58-hour trip

Massive queues gridlocked Dover port

By Local Democracy Reporter

A Sleaford coach driver who got stuck in the Dover port chaos saw a day-long coach trip drag on  for 58 hours.

Driver Dave Stewart, 26, was driving a Bland’s coach full of Bristol school children on an Easter holidays trip to Sauze d’Oulx, near Turin in Italy.

The coach set off from the school at 4pm on Saturday, April 1, but was already delayed by three hours because of delays at Dover port.

The coach ran into queue troubles at Dover, like hundreds of others over the weekend. | Photo: Dave Stewart

Coaches were left waiting in packed queues at the Kent port of Dover over the weekend.

Delays of several hours were reported due to the need for individually processing each vehicle that passes through.

It comes after the introduction of new processes brought in as a result of Brexit, which Downing Street now say played a part in the queues, despite ministers initially denying this in interviews.

Poor weather and high volumes of traffic were also blamed.

| Photo: Dave Stewart

Upon arriving at the port, Dave said the coach was was turned away from Dover and sent to a truck stop to wait for another ferry.

The coach was booked for the 9.30pm Saturday night ferry, and ended up boarding the 9.10pm Sunday night one instead – a full 24 hours later.

This routine trip to Italy, which usually takes 16 to 18 hours, ended up taking 58 hours.

Thankfully, the children have now arrived and can enjoy their holidays.

The great news is that the kids did eventually arrive for their holiday – just a couple of days later than expected! | Photo: Dave Stewart

Dave said that communication was “non-existent” between drivers and border staff.

No food and only “a small amount of water” was handed out to passengers on the hundreds of coaches waiting in queues.

Dave said: “The only updates we could get were from other drivers we know and on social media.

“The only updates we got time wise were through other drivers too. We did not hear anything from any staff at Dover.”

The trip saw them go to Sauze d’Oulx near Turin. | Photo: Dave Stewart

He continues: “It is a worry that these issues are happening more often. We were stuck at Dover and Calais in February half term for approximately six hours each way. It’s simply not good enough.

“These delays are quite rightly putting passengers off using coaches – there could be a loss of business due to them.

“The kids were in good spirits as they were excited to be going on holiday, and they were playing football, netball and dancing outside the coach while we were in the queues.

“However, they won’t have the same excitement for the journey home, which we expect to take just as long.

“It was stressful for us as drivers as we can only work for 21 hours with two of us driving so we were burning into our time, due to this we had to have an overnight stop just south of Calais.”

| Photo: Dave Stewart

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