Operation Stack information
Operation Stack is not in place.
Looking for information on current traffic conditions or road closures?
Visit either Highways England or KCC Highways who are the organisations responsible for the road network:
When Operation Stack is needed we work with Highways England to put it in place and move freight to the port or tunnel safely.
What is Op Stack?
Operation Stack, also known as Op Stack,is where parts of the M20 are used to queue lorries travelling towards the continent, to avoid causing gridlock across Kent's road network. It is only introduced as an emergency measure after consultation with other agencies and implemented following a thorough assessment of issues, including safety concerns and disruption on the road network.
How it works
Op Stack is used between junction 8 (Maidstone services) and junction 9 (Ashford) on the M20. If more space is needed, the closed section will extend to junction 11 (Westenhanger).
Freight is separated into 2 queues on either side of the coastbound carriageway, 1 for tunnel traffic and 1 for port traffic. The middle lanes are kept clear for emergency vehicles.
Lorries are released at the request of the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel. As we move them down the queue in stages you may see stretches of the motorway clear from time to time.
What to do when Op Stack is on
When Op Stack is in place, go to the police checkpoint at junction 8 (M20). Make sure you have plenty of food and water with you.Officers will direct you to the correct queue - you should turn off your engine and wait to be moved forward.
Tunnel-bound freight will stay on the M20.
Quick to market goods
Freight carrying 'quick to market' goods will be sent directly to the Channel Tunnel or the Port of Dover. Quick to market goods are:
- livestock and other live loads (including live shellfish)
- fresh produce (including fish and meat)
- hazardous goods (class 1 explosives and class 7 radioactive materials)
- 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.
If you're carrying any of the above, show your CMR to police on arrival at the Operation Stack checkpoint.
As the M20 will be closed you'll need to use the alternative routes which will be clearly signed and leave in plenty of time.
- If you're heading to the tunnel use the M20 and A20 and follow the hollow circle diversion symbol.
- If you're heading to the port use the A2, M2, A2. If you're already on the M20 when Op Stack is put in place you'll be diverted off at junction 7 via the A249, M2, A2 towards Dover.
Check your travel operator for advice before you leave and listen to traffic bulletins once on the move so you stay up-to-date.
There will be recovery vehicles on standby to clear the route in case of breakdowns but check your car carefully before you leave, especially tyres, lights, oil and fuel levels.
Make sure you have bottles of water and food with you in case of delays.
You can download an Op Stack route map for tourists or view the image below.
M20 slip road closures
As Op Stack is implemented there will be a significant queue of freight traffic which needs to be separated into the 2 queues. To safely manage this, partners may close the slip roads leading to the port and the tunnel for a period of time.