Heavy traffic causes delays and chaos at Calais port

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

LILLE, France, Feb 17 (AFP) - Britons returning home after spending school vacations in France could be in for a nightmare wait for cross-Channel ferries in the port of Calais if problems encountered Thursday persist into the weekend, officials said.

LILLE, France, Feb 17 (AFP) - Britons returning home after spending school vacations in France could be in for a nightmare wait for cross-Channel ferries in the port of Calais if problems encountered Thursday persist into the weekend, officials said.

Hundreds of trucks backed up for more than five kilometres (three miles) leading into the northern French town Thursday because two of the four ramps used to on-load and off-load ferry traffic were out of order.

One of the ramps crumbled into the sea last week, and the other was closed for engineering checks that would last until at least Friday, French port officials said.

The two ferry operators using Calais said they had been forced to cut cross-Channel services because of the bottleneck.

One of them, P and O, said it expected 50,000 passengers - many of them families with children - to try to cross from France to Britain over the weekend on its vessels.

The other, SeaFrance, said more than 160 coaches and 1,000 cars were expected to be lining up to use its ferries on Saturday alone.

"Saturday is going to be extremely heavy with returning vacationers and Sunday will be very heavy with freight vehicles," SeaFrance spokeswoman Muriel Mironneau warned.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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