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French rail strike slowly runs out of steam

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Striking rail workers protest in Paris on Thursday against rail reforms. Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP
08:59 CEST+02:00
A French rail strike that has caused travel havoc across the country continued on Friday but reports suggested most strikers had returned to work and services were getting back to normal, although there was still disruption in certain parts of the country.

Services on France’s rail network was slowly getting back to normal on Friday as a ten day nationwide rail strike looked like it was on its last legs.

Rail operators SNCF reported that on average around eight out of ten trains were running.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls once again urged rail workers back to work saying he did not understand why they were on strike.

"Since the beginning I haven't understood the reasons for this strike and I am convinced the French public have not understood either," Valls said.

According to SNCF chief Guillaume Pépy 90 percent of rail workers were at work on Friday.

The participation of rail workers in the long-running strike – that is said to have cost around €160 million – has been decreasing day by day from 28 percent on the first day to around ten percent on Thursday.

The controversial reform that prompted two unions to call for a walk-out went through parliament this week. It plans to merge train operators SNCF with RFF which is in charge of infrastructure, in order to streamline the system and ameliorate the €44 billion debt problem.

'Forget the rail strike, I love French trains'

“The goal of the reform is do more and better for less money,” Pépy told Le Parisien.

Unions say the reforms will open up the rail sector to privatisation and eventually lead to a loss of jobs. MPs will vote on the reform on Tuesday.

SNCF have made efforts to alleviate the stress for commuters and travellers.

With the holiday season about to get into full swing this weekend SNCF has laid on an extra 80 TGV trains this weekend.

Around 10,000 staff have been employed to offer assistance and information to passengers about the services that are affected.

There was some good news for commuters with SNCF chief Pépy promising that for every day lost to the strike will equal one day of free transport next month. 

Train services:

Paris

RER A – normal service

RER B – Eight trains an hour from Gare du Nord

REC C – 15 – 16 trains per hour

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RER D – Eight trains an hour

RER E – Seven trains an hour.

France

TER services  - On average seven out of ten are running

Main lines – Eight of ten trains are running

For mroe information visit www.abcdtrains.com

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