What’s happening? Unions representing workers with France’s national rail company SNCF are holding a series of rolling strikes to protest against the government's reform of the rail sector and in particular the plan to end the special employment status for new recruits. Train services will be heavily disrupted -- two in every five days until the end of June -- unless a compromise can be found, although that looks unlikely given the failure of negotiations up to now. When are the strikes? Railway workers are next on strike Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th April. A calendar of the planned strikes is available here. Will trains be running? At the beginning of the rail strikes services were almost at a standstill across the country. For example only one out of eight TGV trains were running. However by April 18th some one in three TGV services were operating on strike days. In other words, the impact of the strike is easing and there are trains … [Read more...] about French rail strikes: What can I do if I’m due to travel?
“It will be very slow,” the woman behind the ticket window at Brussels Central station tells me. She looks at me like I’m making a big mistake – she would turn out to be right. Getting to France from Brussels to cover the rail strikes that are paralysing the country is proving rather difficult. It’s normally a breezy half an hour to Lille on a high speed TGV from The Independent’s bureau in the Belgian capital, but those few services that are still running were booked up weeks in advance. I had managed to snag a ticket on the Eurostar, but that was then cancelled too, so decide to do the entire journey by slow Belgian suburban services – which aren’t on strike despite sometimes venturing over the border into France. It would take a while, but get me there eventually, or so I thought. Read more Eurostar cancels trains as Macron protests erupt across Paris An hour into my journey my optimism is shattered when a … [Read more...] about French rail strikes: Just how effective are the anti-Macron walkouts?
The latest wave of France's rolling rail strikes got underway Friday, but with lighter disruption than last week as President Emmanuel Macron vowed to win his high-stakes battle with unions. Train drivers and other staff launched three months of strikes on April 3 in a bid to force Macron to back down on plans for an overhaul of the heavily indebted state rail operator SNCF. They are set to continue two days out of every five until June 28, causing havoc for France's 4.5 million daily train passengers. But Macron insisted on Thursday that he would push on with reforms designed to make the SNCF cheaper to operate as European passenger rail markets open to competition from 2020. "I am going to see this through to the end," he told TF1 in his first public remarks on a standoff that commentators have compared to late British premier Margaret Thatcher's 1980s battle with coal unions. A third of high-speed TGV and regional TER trains were running Friday, a marked increase on last week's … [Read more...] about French rail strikes ease as Macron vows he wont’ back down
A French rail strike lost momentum on Friday after President Emmanuel Macron vowed he wouldn’t back down on plans to overhaul the state operator SNCF.About one high-speed train out of three was expected to run, with the same proportion of regional trains in service, the railway said on its website. This was more than during two previous waves of strikes, when fewer than one in six were running. The SNCF said 38 percent of workers were participating in the strike compared with 43 percent on Monday and 48 percent during the first wave of walkouts April 3 and 4.The Eurostar high-speed link between Paris and London canceled five trains in each direction, about the same as on previous strike days.French unions are spearheading a series of two-day strikes every week through June to protest the government’s plans to end for new recruits the privileges railworkers have long enjoyed on job security, early retirement and special pensions. The government says the steps are necessary … [Read more...] about French Rail Strike Slackens After Macron Shows Resolve on Reform
Travelers are facing havoc at French national railway SNCF, including on the Eurostar route between Paris and London, as a standoff intensifies between the government and unions over President Emmanuel Macron’s planned reforms.The state train operator expects disruptions for a second day on Monday, with the cancellation of about a quarter of cross-Channel trains, 80 percent of high-speed links between French cities and two-thirds of regional trains, according to a statement. The fast Thalys link to Belgium and the Netherlands is expected to run as usual, while most commuter trains around Paris won’t operate.Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has vowed he won’t compromise on opening up France’s rail market to competition and on ending special labor privileges for future hires, Le Parisien newspaper reported Sunday, citing an interview. The state won’t consider taking over SNCF’s debt until the changes are made, he was quoted as saying.Macron has pledged … [Read more...] about French Brace for Rail Strike Havoc as State Vows to Enact Reform