Train services between Paris and south west France halted after protesters block tracks

Protesting paper factory workers blocked all trains between Paris and the south west of France on Monday leaving some 12,000 passengers facing delays and disruption. Earlier on Monday protesting fairground workers blocked the tracks in Le Mans.

Train services between Paris and south west France halted after protesters block tracks
Fairground workers protest in Le Mans. All trains between Paris and the South West of France have been halted. Photo: AFP

UPDATE: SNCF says the tracks have now been cleared and services are slowly returning to normal, although there are likely to be delays for some time


Protesters who are understood to work at the Arjowiggins paper factory – which is threatened with closure – have occupied the platforms at Vendome town station.

The town lies on the high speed Atlantique route from Paris to south west France, and French train operator SNCF said it had been forced to cancel all trains through Vendome since 11.20am on Monday.

The operator said that 24 trains have so far been cancelled, affecting up 12,000 passengers.



It added that police were in the area of the station attempting to establish order.

According to French TV station BFMTV, three factories are potentially facing closure as a result of the company's troubles, affecting more than 800 jobs.

Separately in nearby Le Mans, there were violent protests as fairground workers clashed with police.

Rail traffic through the town was also halted after protesters blocked the tracks.

(Protesters in Le Mans have blocked the railway tracks. Photo: AFP)

Around 300 members of the fairground community – some masked and hooded – were involved in clashes with riot police in the centre of Le Mans; while others blocked train platforms and a section of the motorway.

The dispute is understood to be over the siting of a popular French fairground.

The town council declared that the fair had become too big and too noisy for the town centre, and created a new site on the outskirts of the town.

But furious fairground workers have rejected the new site, saying it is a “soulless car park”. 


(Police fired tear gas at the protesting fairground workers in Le Mans. Photo: AFP)

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted: “Nothing can justify the abuses committed this morning at Le Mans.

“Our forces have faced attacks of unheard-of violence.”

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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.