Junction 8 of the M20 coast bound at Hollingbourne is now closed as part of Operation Brock and non freight coastbound traffic is now entering the two lane contraflow system on the M20 between Junctions 7 and 8. London bound traffic continues to use the thirteen mile long contraflow system on the London bound side of the motorway. Motorists who wish to go coast bound from Junction 8 now have to go back up to Junction 7 before making a U turn at the roundabout on the A249.
Operation Brock is a £30 million scheme that provide storage for 2100 lorries awaiting Customs at Eurotunnel and Dover if and when the UK leaves the EU Customs union as part of Brexit. Thousands more lorries awaiting Customs will be stored for up to two days at Manston Airport, near Dover, and on the M26. The scheme was implemented this morning in case the UK leaves the EU Customs union on 31st October.
Since the two lane contraflow system was introduced some months ago for London bound traffic there have been a a large number of incidents which has meant that traffic has had to be diverted on the A20 which has resulted in major traffic delays. Reports have been received that suggest the contraflow system already adds a minimum of ten minutes to journeys between Ashford and Hollingbourne. The first real test of the system is likely to come this Saturday and Sunday when tens of thousands of people will be at Leeds Castle for their Fireworks Displays. Any problem on the M20 then could result in major traffic jams around Junction 8 and elsewhere.
The contraflow system has a 50 mph speed limit and no refuges or facilities for lorry drivers awaiting Customs. Reports have been received that the authorities have been unsuccessful in collecting fines from speeding foreign drivers.
The access to the A20 from Hollingbourne on the B2149/C603 already can be difficult in the morning rush hour and this morning was no different with vehicles backing up well into Eyhorne Street. The new arrangement is not likely to improve matters.
It is is not known whether Operation Brock is now permanent or whether it will be stood down if the UK does not leave the EU Customs Union in the near future. More information is at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/OperationBrock/
Pictured below is the M20 this morning with some of the first vehicles using the coast bound contraflow system at about 7.30am.