The Department of Transport has today carried out a live trial of an emergency traffic congestions system to be used in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Heavy Goods Vehicle’s started their journey at the disused Manston airport north of Ramsgate at 7am this morning (Monday 7, January).
As part of a three-stage process, the trucks were intended to make their way to Dover, and held just after 8am in a further holding area of the A256.
However, the test has come in for widespread criticism. The Road Haulage Association were the first, arguing that this was just ‘window dressing’, and could not mimic the reality of ‘6,000 trucks’ in the event of a no-deal.
A reason for this criticism was the number of trucks that turned up, falling far short of the 150 aim of the Department. In total, only 89 HGV’s turned up, at a cost of £550 per driver. In all, the exercise cost the Department for Transport £48,950.
Secondly, there was ideological opposition to this exercise. Ian Murray, Labour MP, and supporter of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum called the trial “utterly ludicrous”. He claimed that this was a use of taxpayers’ money that was wasted – spent on a “traffic jam for a dead-end Brexit”. Whilst it also came in for criticism from Conservative backbencher, Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover. Mr Elphicke called the plans “too complex”, and would cause confusion for drivers.
However, Ben Pearce, a driver who took part, believed the trial was “going quite well”, and was giving drivers a “fair idea” of how traffic should behave in holding areas. Importantly, witnesses and bystanders said traffic was light, and at first sight, did not appear to cause any extra queues.