Thursday December 17 was the most chaotic day in the already turbulent history of the Channel Tunnel according to TLN. According to the transport organisation 7000 lorries passed through the tunnel on that day. The full capacity of 200 cars per hour didn't prevent a short traffic jam at the end of the morning, after which the swarm of migrants flocked to the sitting trucks like ants. This caused around one thousand migrants to attempt to get into trucks to England through coordinated efforts.

The photo on the right was taken by a Freight-Line Europe trucker

The police had to close off the two access roads to the port and train terminal and chase the migrants off the road and out of trucks with a large amount of people and tear gas. At around six o'clock it was calm again and the roads were released.

Sjoerd Boot of TLN was present at Calais to map out the situation. He was accompanied by representatives of the Eurotunnel, the manager of the roads around the Euro tunnel, members of the IRU and colleagues from sister organisations from Belgium, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. "We have ascertained that the problem is large and that as far as solutions are concerned it is not the fault of the efforts of the Eurotunnel. They have invested millions to limit the damage as much as possible and keep the migrants off the access roads."

Fast lane
Sjoerd names the definite plans to create a fast lane as one of the successes of the visit. "Besides this we as transport companies will create a database to inventory the exact damage. Information is power and with and extended database we can show the urgency of the problem to the governments. The exact damage for the fruit and vegetable sector isn't yet known. I do know that there is a big flow of goods and this is why it is sensible to do this."

The application of the army wasn't dealt with during the talks. "At the moment the French army already has its hands full with protecting countless hot spots in the cities. Although Calais is also important, we understand their considerations in this."

Freight-Line Europe drivers were also waiting. Although the transport company transports as much as possible through the ferries, the planning cannot escape having to send some trucks through the tunnel. "Our drivers weren't involved in incidents, but there was a waiting time of 4 to 5 hours," reports Chris-Hans van der Hout
Keep calm
Chris-Hans agrees that the migrants are becoming increasingly aggressive and he really has to motivate his drivers to go through the Channel Tunnel. "These guys have a family at home and that cabin is their second home. The aggression and destruction to the trucks affects them. I phoned them tonight and couldn't do more than advise them to keep calm, lock the doors and not leave the truck."

According to Chris-Hans the set of measures against the trouble is starting to run out. "Pretty much everything has been come up with. I can't think of anything but tougher measures. With the small margins in our branch we really have to come up with something. That 150 million worth of damage will soon no longer be coverable."

With some adaptations in the planning and conversations with customers, Freight-Line hopes to be able to deliver everything in the UK before Christmas.