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Op Stack is not in place

Latest update: 12 October


The M20 is fully open in both directions. Op Stack is not in place.


If Manston Airfield is being used, use the links below for Highways England's travel advice

I am tourist traffic going to Port of Dover

I am tourist traffic going to Eurotunnel

I am Port of Dover freight

I am Eurotunnel freight

How will Manston work?

I am freight with quick to market goods


Why is Operation Stack used?

It is only used as an emergency measure following consultation with other agencies and a thorough assessment of safety concerns and disruption on the road network. It has been necessary in recent weeks due to a range of factors including reduced ferry services due to industrial action in Calais, and disruptions to Eurotunnel due to attempts by foreign migrants to enter the UK illegally.

How does it work?

Freight is separated into two queues on either side of the carriageway, one for tunnel and one for port. Space is left in the middle to allow for emergency vehicles e.g. break-downs, medical episodes.

Queues are released on the Port of Dover's and Channel Tunnel's request. You'll see the motorway clear from time to time as freight is moved down the queue in stages.

Why are some motorway slips closed in the early stages?

While Op Stack is implemented there will be a significant queue of freight traffic which sometimes merges from the port to traffic for the Channel Tunnel. To safely manage the freight traffic and place the operation on, there may be a need to close other slip roads leading to the port and the tunnel for a period of time.

 Manston Airfield - how it works

In August 2015 Highways England announced that Manston will be used to queue Dover freight when the Op Stack M20 closure between J8-11 is full to capacity. They have devised the below system when Op Stack and Manston Airfield are in use.

 Port of Dover freight traffic

Dover-bound freight coming from the West will use the M20 to J7 (Maidstone), where it will be diverted via the A249, M2, A299 to Manston.

Dover-bound freight coming from the North (Dartford Crossing) will use the A2, M2 , A299 to Manston.

From Manston, freight will use the A256, A2 to Dover. 

Click image to enlarge 

Op Stack - ManstonChannel


Port of Dover tourist traffic

Dover-bound tourist traffic will be encouraged to use A2, M2, A2. If already on the M20 Dover-bound tourist traffic will be diverted off at J7 (Maidstone) and via the A249, M2, A2 to Dover.

The routes will be clearly signed and at various junctions along the M20, M2, and onward to Manston there will be either a Highways England, a Kent County Council Highways, or Kent Police patrol. Vehicle recovery will be at strategic pinch points to keep the route moving in case of break-downs.

 Click image to enlarge

Op Stack - tourists



Tunnel traffic

Channel Tunnel-bound freight will stay on the M20 and Channel Tunnel tourist traffic will use the M20 and A20 following the hollow circle diversion symbol.

Motorists are advised to plan their journeys carefully and allow plenty of extra time if travelling towards the east of the county.

Quick to market goods

Quick to market products will be identified as part of the filter procedure on entry to Operation Stack.

Such loads will at present be limited to fresh produce which need to be at market within a matter of hours, but will not include other products with a longer life span.

The following loads will not enter Operation Stack but be sent directly to the Channel Tunnel or the Port of Dover: 

  • livestock and other live loads, which includes live shellfish
  • quick to market fresh produce, including fish and meat 
  • hazardous goods – explosive (class 1) and radioactive materials (class 7) 
  • freight/cargo for critical care – emergency medicines, equipment for critical care and any other material required to preserve life
  • items critical for humanitarian need and welfare of the nation

Drivers carrying ‘Quick to Market’ goods should present their CMR to Kent Police on arrival at the Operation Stack checkpoint and they will be prioritised accordingly.


Check with your operator

Contact your travel operator before setting off on your journey. Here are a few useful numbers:

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