Are you planning to go through Kent this summer? Planning to use the M20, maybe on your way to the ferry port or to the Eurotunnel terminal.
Then Operation Stack may effect you.
Operation Stack happens when freight lorries cannot cross the channel and have to wait in Kent. It might be to do with bad weather, industrial action, electrical faults on le chunnel or pesky migrants messing about outside Calais.
If one of these happens then Kent Police call on Operation Stack which is basically turning the M20 into a giant Lorry Park – first one way and then the other – creating over 3000 extra parking spaces.
How Does Operation Stack effect you?
The first you might hear of Operation Stack are the illuminated signs on the M25 warning you about Operation Stack being in effect. With other signs telling you which parts of the M20 are closed. Yes Closed! Because once you park lorries there, cars have to find another route.
Obviously diversions are in place but traffic around the closures can be quite fierce so you may like to make an even wider detour.
The closures come in four levels:
- Coast-bound from Junction 11 (Hythe) to 12 (Cheriton)
- Coast-bound from Junction 8 (Maidstone) to 9 (Ashford)
- London-bound from Junction 9 (Ashford) to 8 (Maidstone)
- Coast-bound from Junction 8 (Maidstone) to 12 (Cheriton)
Traffic is generally sent along the A20, which runs parallel, but you can also choose to take the M2 and A2 off of the M25 and drop down either before or after junction 11a because the A20 gets jammed up because of the diversions.
Having said that, leave the normal route and you run the risk of following your electrical navigation devices round deepest darkest Kent, like I did last month! In the end we had to add another hour on to our two-hour journey and apparantly we were lucky! Good To See suggests getting an old fashioned map, listening to the radio and looking out for temporary road signs.
Online Updates to Operation Stack
Head to http://www.kent.police.uk/news/latest_news/000000_op_stack.html where a typical update might look like this:
[quoted at 09:33 28 July 2015] The M20 is closed coastbound between junction 8 and 9.
In addition, the following restrictions have been temporarily implemented to reduce congestion on the A20 at Dover:
- No access to the coastbound M20 at junctions 9, 10 and 12.
- The coastbound M20 at Junction 11 is only accessible to tourist traffic heading for Eurotunnel
- No access to the coastbound A20 from the A260 (Hawkinge).
Other sources of information include http://www.kmfm.co.uk/ and of course your radio dial.
Operation Stack can be used for many days at a time and, whilst it is a pain for us traveling through to the continent, just think what it must be like for the residents of Kent.
Additionally, during the summer months, Eurotunnel and the ferry companies can be overstretched too so, even if you get there on time, you never quite know what is waiting for you.
So plan ahead, leave early, be flexible and stay calm. Cursing and swearing will not mean that you get there quicker, in fact nothing that you can do will, but being in control will make it seem as though it is quicker.
That means lots of books and games for the kids, maybe some real gourmet treats for you, or a talking book and a smile: a smile is the best thing – especially when you see others getting cross… what did Kipling say about keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs? Maybe he worked for the Highways Agnecy!
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