Rail strike: Passengers in France face major disruption

Train services across France were once again cancelled on Tuesday as rail workers held the latest strike.

Rail strike: Passengers in France face major disruption
Photo: AFP
Main points:
  • Only around half of TGV services are running
  • Two thirds of Intercité trains have been cancelled
  • In Paris the Transilien commuter trains are running at half service
  • RER lines in Paris are also disrupted, including RER B to the airports 
  • RER lines C and D are running at one third service
  • 60 percent of TER regional services cancelled
Another day another rail strike in France.
Although that's what it probably feels like this morning for train passengers all over the country who are facing major disruption to their journeys.
The strike, which has been jointly called by all trade unions to protest pay and working conditions, will affect large parts of the country and particularly trains around Paris.
France's rail operator SNCF has already warned that only half of TGV services around the country will be running. 
In the Paris region only one in two Transilien trains are operating meaning many workers in the capital face a difficult journey to and from work on Tuesday.
RER services will also be badly hit, apart from on the RER A, which will pretty much run as normal given that it is run by the RATP rather than SNCF.
RER line B, which serves the two Paris airports, and RER E have had services hit to varying degrees but it is RER C and RER D that are the worst hit with only one third of the usual services running.
The Paris Metro should operate as normal although commuters can expect it to be even more jammed than normal given the disruption elsewhere.
The forecasts for TER and Intercité services around the country are even worse, with only four TER services out of ten running and one in three Intercité services.
Services in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur (Paca) region in the south have been badly hit thanks to a separate strike called by train controllers.
The good news is that international services like the Eurostar should not be too affected by the strike with services almost normal.
However Lyria train services to Switzerland will be affected.
SNCF say replacement staff to cover for the strikers will be used at rush hour times on Tuesday to try to minimise the disruption.
The operator said thousands of emails and text messages had been sent out to warn travellers that their services had been disrupted, which they say partly accounted for the fact that French rail stations appeared deserted on Tuesday morning.
For more information on the disruption and how to reorganize your travel plans CLICK HERE.
But passengers should be warned that although rail traffic should return to normal on Wednesday morning, unions have threatened further strike action in the weeks and months ahead.
“A stronger movement can be envisaged in the absence of real negotiations that take into account the alternative propositions put forward by the unions,” said Thierry Nier, from the CGT union.
The negotiations promise to be fraught given that they are aimed at harmonizing working conditions for private and public sector rail workers as SNCF prepares to open itself up to competition in the years to come.

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French trains ditch plastic water bottles

French national train operator SNCF has announced it will no longer sell water in plastic bottles on its services, saying the move would reduce the waste from roughly two million drinks.

French train bars will no longer be able to see plastic bottles of water.
French train bars will no longer be able to see plastic bottles of water. Photo: BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP.

The plastic packaging will be replaced with recyclable cardboard for still water and aluminium for sparkling.

“Plastic is no longer fantastic,” head of consumer travel operations at the SNCF, Alain Krakovitch, wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

France has gradually increased restrictions on single-use packaging to help reduce waste amid growing evidence about the impact of plastic on sea life in particular.

The government announced on Monday that plastic packaging will be banned for nearly all fruit and vegetables from January next year.

The environment ministry said that 37 percent of fruit and vegetables were sold with plastic packaging, and only the most fragile produce such as strawberries will be given an exemption on the ban until 2026.

“We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it was working to cut back “the use of throwaway plastic and boost its substitution by other materials or reusable and recyclable packaging.”

Last year, France passed a wide-ranging “circular economy” law to combat waste that forbids retailers from destroying unsold clothes and will ban all single-use plastic containers by 2040.

Paris city authorities announced this week that they were aiming to eliminate all plastic from state day-care centres, canteens and retirement homes by 2026.