6 February 2019
Digital technology could see Dover-bound lorries held at points across the UK before being released to join traffic at the port.
Based on the way air traffic control works at airports, the system developed by the University of Kent and Kent Business School could help keep freight traffic moving following any post-Brexit disruption.
Under the virtual queuing system, drivers would join a “queue” as soon as they were ready to travel to Dover from anywhere in the country. In the event of a delay at the Port of Dover or the Channel Tunnel, drivers would be advised to delay their journey or to take a break.
The idea is that they could be halted before arriving in Kent, with the digitally-based virtual queue effectively holding hundreds of trucks at different locations across the UK rather than in the county itself.
Once any delay is resolved, drivers can be told through an app or text message to continue their journey.
The system’s developers say that it could also be used to apply penalties to any drivers ignoring the virtual queue.
The digital queuing idea should therefore address problems associated with two current traffic management schemes — Operation Stack and Operation Brock — which would see lorries held on and around the M20 in the event of any border disruption.
The development team has also suggested that the digital system might eventually be linked to an inland customs clearance scheme. Further data collection and trials are continuing, with a phased introduction anticipated during this year.