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French rail strikes: How services will be affected on Thursday

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French rail strikes: How services will be affected on Thursday
Photo: AFP
09:19 CEST+02:00
French rail workers continue their latest two-day strike on Thursday. Here's what we know about how train services will be affected.
Travellers in France face more travel headaches on Thursday as French rail chiefs SNCF cancels scores of services across the country due to the ongoing two-day rail strike.
 
One TGV train out of three is expected to be operating on Thursday, as well as two TER and two Transilien trains out of every five and one Intercite train out of four. 
 
On Ouigo services, one out of every three trains operating. 
 
Meanwhile on international services, there will be four Eurostar trains out of five, while Thalys traffic will be "almost normal", according to the SNCF.
 
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French rail strikes: What can I do if I'm due to travel?Photo: AFP

However there will be no trains running between France and Spain and France and Italy. 
 
In Paris anyone taking the RER A, Europe's busiest train line, there will be one train out of two running on the Cergy/Poissy branch and three trains out of four on the rest of the line. 
 
On RER B, which serves both Paris airports, there will be one train out of two running on the whole line throughout the day. Services will stop at Gare du Nord meaning passengers travelling to Charles de Gaulle airport will have to change.
 
The other RER commuter lines around Paris will also be affected to differing degrees.
 
These disruptions are the latest of three months of rolling strikes planned by rail workers that began on April 3 over plans to overhaul the heavily indebted train operator SNCF, the biggest test yet to President Emmanuel Macron's wide-ranging drive to reform the country's economy.
 
The strikes have caused major travel headaches for the 4.5 million daily rail users in France although they are causing less disruption than when they first started on April 3rd when only one in eight TGV services was running. 
 
Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament late Tuesday voted  overwhelmingly in favour of a reform of the train network which will erode 
railway workers' privileges and change the status of the SNCF.
 
After Tuesday's vote of 454 to 80 in the National Assembly, the  legislation, which is backed by Macron's own party and the centre-right  opposition, moves to the Senate.
 
Macron is hoping that the law will be passed quickly, undermining the  rolling strikes which are scheduled until the end of June.
 
He is largely backed by public opinion, with 61 percent of respondents to a  recent Ifop poll saying they wanted the government to push through the reforms.
 
But trade unions have vowed to continue their fight.
 
Latest French rail strike hits train services on Wednesday
Photo: AFP
 
They have called for a day of nationwide work stoppages and demonstrations  Thursday as part of their efforts to mobilise various groups opposed to 
Macron's reforms.
 
Civil servants, workers in state retirement homes and students have all been called to join protests that could bring hundreds of thousands of people 
onto the street.
 
Around 300,000 civil servants, rail workers and students took part in the last day of anti-Macron demonstrations on March 22, according to police 
figures.
 
Macron, who sees his own credibility as a reformer on the line as he  prepares to mark the first anniversary of his presidency on May 14, has 
insisted he will not back down.
 
Once passed by the lower house the rail reform law will proceed to the  Senate where it will not be examined before May 29.
 
In a recent television interview, the French president who had hardly spoken about the conflict publicly, vowed to stand firm. “I will go to the end of these reforms,” he said. “It is essential we go ahead, not to do so would be a political hypocrisy”.
 
"I believe, as the unions do, that we need a strong rail service, a strong SNCF, and I respect their struggle," Macron told TF1 television in his first comments on the rolling strikes launched last week.
 
"But I'm also asking them to fully consider the needs of our fellow citizens who have to put up with this, of the companies that could fail because of this strike," Macron said.
 
"The right answer is not to abandon this reform, but to carry it out together," he said. "But I am going to see this through to the end."
 
The CGT union blasted him as "a hesitant president who didn't say much, who  in all likelihood has not got a good understanding of the reform plans, and  who, far from reassuring us, has strengthened the determination of the rail  workers". 
 
The unions object to plans to deny new SNCF recruits benefits such as jobs  for life and early retirement, and fear Macron's proposal to transform the operator into a state-owned joint stock company could eventually see it  privatised.
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