UK

Eurotunnel Services Return To Normal After Migrant Activity Causes Holiday Gridlock On Busiest Travel Weekend Of The Year

26/07/2015 17:42 BST | Updated 26/07/2015 17:59 BST

Eurotunnel services have returned to normal after migrant activity in France caused long delays and left British holidaymakers seething on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

The Channel Tunnel operator apologised to passengers on Saturday after thousands endured waits of up to five hours after migrant disruptions in Calais caused problems with services across the channel.

The company said it has now cleared all of its backlog and that services from both the English and French side are now running normally, with up to four departures an hour.

eurotunnel

Eurotunnel services have returned to normal after migrant activity in Calais on Saturday caused a holiday gridlock

In a further boost to Britons hoping to get away for the holidays Operation Stack, which closes the M20 in Kent coast-bound to hold waiting freight traffic, has now been stood down, and Kent Police said the motorway is open to all traffic.

John Keefe, a spokesman for Eurotunnel, said that minimal "migrant activity" on Saturday night because of less freight traffic travelling from France earlier in the day had allowed them to return services to normal.

He said: "Everything is going fine. Our services are running normally and to time, so we are getting through the traffic.

"We had delays yesterday morning, but managed to get all the traffic away despite the migrant activity in France.

"Now we have got no problems and our services are running well. We found a way of managing the migrant crisis and have got all the holiday traffic away on time for the beginning of the holidays."

Issues with migrants entering the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles have been a nightly occurrence in recent weeks, causing problems with services crossing the channel.

There were delays to the service on Thursday when the body of a suspected migrant was found on the roof of a Eurotunnel train at the Chunnel terminal in Folkestone.

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An estimated 5,000 migrants displaced from countries including Syria, Libya and Eritrea are now believed to be camped in and around Calais.

Mr Keefe said Eurotunnel has spent £106.1 million since 2000 on security, an average of £7 million a year.

But it has already spent £9.2 million on security in the first six months of this year, he added.

Freight transport chiefs have said Britain's freight industry is losing £750,000 a day because of the huge problems lorry drivers have faced this summer trying to cross the channel.