• France edition
 
French rail workers again extend their strike
Striking workers of the French state-run rail operator SNCF light flares as they demonstrate against reform plans proposed by the French government in Lyon. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

French rail workers again extend their strike

Published: 18 Jun 2014 14:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Jun 2014 14:01 GMT+02:00

Commuters in France faced yet more disruption on the rails on Wednesday as one of the longest running train strikes in recent years entered its second week.

However despite the ongoing industrial action, rail operator SNCF forecast an improvement in the number of trains running on Wednesday compared to previous days when commuters faced major travel chaos.

French rail union, CGT Cheminot, announced on Wednesday its workers had voted to continue the strike by another 24 hours. 

SNCF said on average there would be seven out of ten trains running on the main lines. In and around Paris the situation in the RER service should also improve on Wednesday with one train running every seven minutes on the RER B that serves the two airports.

On the RER C and E one out of two trains were running and on the RER D there will be a train every ten minutes. 

CLICK HERE for more information on the trains that are running. Travellers can also call 0 805 200 440 to find out information.

The reform that has provoked the strike by the CGT and Sud-Rail unions will continue to be discussed by MPs in the National Assembly on Wednesday

French PM Manuel Valls has insisted the government would not back down to the demands of strikers and vowed that the reform would pass.

Transport Secretary Frédéric Cuvillier called on MPs to back the reform in order to “save and assure financially the future of the public rail service.”

The strike has been prompted by a reform aimed at tackling the rail sector's soaring debt, which stands at more than €40 billion and is set to almost double by 2025 if nothing changes.

It looks to cut costs by bringing together the SNCF train operator and RFF railway network and to eventually open up parts of the service to competition.

Some unions signed up to the reforms after obtaining promises from the government. But the CGT and Sud-Rail unions rejected the accord saying the plans will lead to job losses without reducing the debt.

'The government should protect a public service'

Speaking on Wednesday the CGT union chief Thierry Lepaon again blasted the reform saying it presented major risks for the French rail service.

“The heart of the matter is that we are horrified. It is the preparation for privatisation of rail transport in our country. The government wants to allow competitors to operate train on the SNCF network, who will compete with today's rail transport," he told France Inter radio.

France's move towards the deregulation of its rail system is at the behest of the EU, but Lepaon says the government should be reinforcing the public service and oppose the opening up to competition.

"We ask the government to take responsibility so the public service can continue to exist," Lepaon said.

On Tuesday tensions appeared to rise as the strikers protests became more militant.

There were brief clashes with police outside the National Assembly and strikers also briefly blocked the tracks in Paris's busy Montparnasse station.

In the afternoon, up to 300 strikers forced their way into the office of public television France 3 in the eastern city of Lyon, demanding a live debate with Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier, but later left without getting their request met.

In the southern port city of Marseille, meanwhile, their peers took direct action by addressing passengers in the railway station's main hall.

"There is a real rising anger at the way we have been singled out for blame" by the government, said Philippe Goalard, a rail worker since 1995.

"Perhaps we haven't communicated enough... and in this second week of the strike we need to explain more." 

However the public mood appearsto be against the strike.

The walkout, in a country where strikes occur regularly, drew outrage with a poll published in Le Parisien newspaper Tuesday showing that 76 percent of the French opposed the protest, which has so far cost at least €80 million ($108 million).

The poll also showed that only one in three French understood the reasons behind the strike.

French rail strike: What is all the fuss about?

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Champions League
PSG drawn in same group as Barcelona
Photo: AFP

PSG drawn in same group as Barcelona

PSG were paired with Barcelona in Group F of the Champions League when the draw for the group stages was made on Thursday. France's other representative Monaco were handed a much easier draw, at least on paper. READ  

Guest blog - France Profonde
France profonde: Rural idyll or backwater hell?
Life in Rural France: Is it heaven or hell or just what you make of it? Photo: Shutterstock

France profonde: Rural idyll or backwater hell?

Does life in rural France offer the peace and quiet that you've always dreamed about or is it a quick route to loneliness and isolation? Annecy-based writer Amaryllis Barton takes a closer look. READ  

Calais migrants crisis
France to demand UK help ease Calais crisis
France says they'll be no new shelter for migrants in Calais. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France to demand UK help ease Calais crisis

France's Interior Minister has dismissed the prospect of a new mass shelter in Calais to house homeless migrants trying to smuggle themselves into the UK. But the so-called top cop plans to ask British authorities to "accept their responsibilities" for the ongoing crisis. READ  

Pitt and Jolie tie the knot secretly in France
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie marry in France in a low-key ceremony. Photo: AFP

Pitt and Jolie tie the knot secretly in France

Celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married in secret in France at the weekend in a low key ceremony at their château. It was in stark contrast to Kanye West's and Kim Kardashian's pre-nuptial celebrations in Paris earlier this year. READ  

Ex-French cop blasts Diana's 'DIY' security
An ex-French cop has bashed the 'inadequate' security Diana had the night she was killed in Paris. Photo: John Stillwell/AFP

Ex-French cop blasts Diana's 'DIY' security

In his new book the ex-Paris cop who guarded Princess Diana’s corpse the night she was killed, says the “icon” had an inadequate “DIY” security detail which contributed to the tragic outcome. READ  

The French words you can't translate literally
Can you let me know where I can buy a "throat support"? Bra photo: Shutterstock

The French words you can't translate literally

The French language has a plethora of words that if you translated literally into English could cause a fair bit of confusion and hilarity for language learners. From "throat support" to "mouth fun", we've picked out some of the best. Let us know of any more. READ  

Air France pilots set for week-long strike
Air France pilots have warned of a major strike in September. Photo: Tab59/Flickr

Air France pilots set for week-long strike

More travel chaos could be on the way now that Air France pilots have said they will strike for at least a week in September over their concerns about a reorganization of the international carrier. READ  

Netflix to film French 'House of Cards'
Netflix is going to make a House of Cards-like political thriller in France. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty/AFP

Netflix to film French 'House of Cards'

France’s gritty port city of Marseille will be the setting for a Netflix original series that will bear a strong resemblance to the streaming service’s massive hit "House of Cards". The news comes on the eve of Netflix’s arrival in France. READ  

Hollande: Assad is no anti-jihadist ally of West
Assad is no ally of the West says Hollande. Photo: AFP

Hollande: Assad is no anti-jihadist ally of West

President François Hollande declared on Thursday that Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad is not a partner of the West in the battle against Islamist extremists in Syria and Iraq, but an ally of the jihadists. READ  

French minister wants easing of 35-hour week
Could France soon scrap its 35-hour week? Photo: Daniel Janin/AFP

French minister wants easing of 35-hour week

Could France soon ditch its sacred, but oft-ridiculed 35-hour work week? New Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron says he is in favour of at least making the rules more flexible. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
International
VIDEO: Watch the top five street scams to avoid in Paris
Politics
Take a look at the bulging to-do list that awaits France's new government
Politics
Six questions for France after Hollande ousts rebels
International
Choosing schools in France: Do you go international or French?
Gallery
From kissing to bad-mouthing: Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Culture
VIDEO: Francophile Robin Williams enjoyed poking fun at the French
Travel
Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination
International
Remembering the 'forgotten campaign' in the liberation of France
Gallery
VIDEO: French bucket list - The 12 best things to do in France
International
Do three French cities deserve to be in top 10 "World 's Most Unfriendly"?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se