Rail strike slows transport across France
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Rail strikes in France are set to bring widespread disruption across the country on Wednesday and Thursday, although the Paris Metro and international rail services will be less affected.
The industrial action by workers in France’s state-owned SNCF operator began at 7pm on Tuesday and is set to end at 8am on Thursday.
The SNCF said that intercity night trains will be cancelled from 7pm Paris time (GMT+1) on Tuesday. These trains, as well as regional lines across the country, will be running one train in three during the day.
On Wednesday, the Transilien regional rail service in the Ile de France region around Paris will also be operating only one train in three.
High-speed TGV services in the east of France will be reduced to 50 percent service. In the north, west and south of France, only one in three TGV trains will be running.
The Paris Metro and RER services in and around the city will be largely unaffected by the strike, except for the RER B line that connects Charles de Gaulle airport with the city, which will see two-thirds of trains cancelled.
International services will also be affected, with 20 percent of Eurostar trains cancelled.
The Lyria TGV line connecting France with Switzerland will be running at 50 percent and the SVI line to Italy will be reduced to a one-third service.
Thalys trains (connecting Paris with Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) and the Alleo line to Germany will be operating normally.
In a rare show of unity, the strike was called by the four main unions representing France’s rail workers – the CFDT, CGT Sud and Unsa. It is the most widespread industrial action on France’s railways since 2013.
All the participating unions are demanding that extra staff be recruited, as well as pay rises and guarantees about their working conditions.
They also say that management of the state rail system is “catastrophic” and that so far in 2016, 1,400 trains were cancelled because there was insufficient staff to run them.
Since 2003, the SNCF has reduced its workforce by 25,000 by not replacing staff as they retire. In 2015, the SNCF had just under 150,000 employees.