Posted on | August 3, 2015 | 1 Comment
When the tunnel under the English Channel looked like being excavated the threatened ferry companies liked to portray themselves as the travellers “flexible” friends as opposed to the “fixed link” that was stuck for ever in one place.
With the French ferry port of Calais under siege from mobs ( we must not call them, as did the UK Prime Minister “swarms”) of desperate migrants and the Eurotunnel being blocked by furious bands of redundant French ferry workers, it seems that the ferries are not quite as flexible as we would like them to be. The County of Kent is in virtual gridlock with queues of trucks trying to get across the Channel, with 25 mile tailbacks, but sadly, all calls for the ferries to use alternative ports fall on deaf ears these days.
When ferries were smaller and, dare we suggest, rather more nimble, chaos at Calais (which was not unknown) would be the signal for the ferries to switch to Zeebrugge, Ostend or Dunkirk, so the hauliers could at least keep moving. Sadly, while the ferries on the shortest route are arguably some of the world’s most efficient, loading and discharging over double ramps at astonishing speed, the monster ships, which depend on shore ramps cannot be easily switched to other ports. The old saying “fog in the Channel – Continent cut off” may have a gloomy resonance this summer. If you live in the South of England, better to stay at home.
But if you are trying to run a ferry company across this busy stretch of water, the “migrant crisis” is very real, with desperate stowaways willing to risk life and limb trying to get aboard in trucks or cars and menacing operations in a dozen different ways.