Travelling to the EU this summer by road via the Port of Dover?
Wondering how your commute might be impacted by summer traffic in Kent?
In either case, you'll need to be aware of Operation Brock, a contraflow scheme designed to maintain traffic flow in the event of disruption at Dover/Calais.
This guide will help you prepare for how Operation Brock works, and how to handle any disruption on the way to the English Channel.
Note that Operation Brock is only implemented at times of congestion - it is not permanently in operation.
Quick tips when Operation Brock is in place:
- Allow more time for your journey if you are travelling to France by ferry
- Double check the ferry check-in times
- Take extra water, snacks and any essential medication
- Have your documents open at ID pages when arriving at border controls
- Check with your travel operator before leaving home; they will tell you about any delays
What is Operation Brock?
Operation Brock is a traffic management system designed to ensure the movement of vehicles on the M20 and other important Kent roads when there is disruption in travel between Dover and Calais.
Following Brexit, a percentage of vehicles heading between the channel ports must be checked by security officials. This reduces the speed at which traffic - especially HGVs - can complete their journeys.
The name Brock is derived from 'Brexit Operations across Kent'.
How does Operation Brock work?
Operation Brock is designed to ensure that if there is disruption at Channel ports, traffic that is not heading to the port or the Eurotunnel can continue moving, while freight traffic can move to and from the port (or be queued as necessary).
When in operation, EU-bound HGVs use one side of the M20 (left hand side when looking coastbound) to reach the port of Dover.
The other side of the M20 (four lanes, two in each direction) is used for normal traffic/EU origin freight. Brock can be set up overnight in order to deal with disruption at short notice.
Significant modifications and upgrades were made to the M20 for Operation Brock.
A key aspect of Operation Brock is the use of 'lorry car parks' - where HGV traffic can be parked during times of high congestion.
How might Operation Brock affect my commute in/through Kent?
In effect, when Operation Brock is activated, regular, non-coastbound traffic will have access to four lanes (two in either direction) - rather than the M20's full capacity.
When Brock is not in operation, traffic can use the full capacity of the M20.
Naturally, with fewer lanes, traffic not heading to the port of Eurotunnel may experience more congestion.
Aside from the issue of congestion, the operation has faced further criticism from industry and the public. For example, rest and hygiene facilities are lacking (for both professional drivers and the public), and there are fears that changes to border controls in October 2023 could result in delays.
Additionally, a section of the M20 has no hard shoulder. Instead, five emergency refuge areas are to be used in case of an incident.
A lack of hard shoulder makes it more difficult for emergency services to reach accident locations.
How does Brock differ from Operation Stack?
Operation Stack preceded Operation Brock. Stack was also designed to manage congestion.
Sections of the M20 were divided into 'stacks', in which different vehicle types could be parked up until traffic could begin moving again.
Get updates on Operation Block
Visit the National Highways website for up-to-date alerts on Operation Brock. It will tell you if the M20 is fully open, open with contraflow in use, or closed. It will also state when certain sections of the M20 coastbound are only open for EU freight (between certain junctions).