Eurotunnel checks 'may delay traffic' on M20, bosses say

Eurotunnel train leaving the tunnel at Calais in France Eurotunnel takes vehicles from Folkestone to Calais in France

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New cross-channel passenger passport checks could cause disruption on roads in Kent, Eurotunnel bosses have warned.

Currently, vehicles are checked at random before leaving the UK but from April 2015, each individual passenger will have their passports inspected.

John Keefe, director of public affairs at Eurotunnel, said the delays in boarding vehicles at Folkestone could lead to a traffic build-up on the M20.

Almost four million vehicles use the cross-channel rail service every year.

Mr Keefe said: "The problem is the space and time it takes to conduct these checks.

"The space to the motorway is very short and there's the risk of Operation Stack being put in place because of queuing car traffic."

When Operation Stack is implemented, traffic building up on the roads leading to the ports and cross-channel terminals is parked on one lane of the approaching motorway.

'Worst case scenario'

Mr Keefe added: "We need a much more high-tech solution. The process of checking people's faces against their passports isn't practical anymore."

Damian Collins, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said: "Eurotunnel are right to flag up concerns - they are flagging up a 'worst case scenario' and I think we need to discuss this with the Home Office.

"Their concerns are over manual passport checks, but there may be other ways of doing this."

He said he would continue to discuss new technology with Eurotunnel and the Home Office to speed up the passport checking process.

The Home Office has been approached for comment but has not yet responded.

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