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11 Metro lines to close: How Paris public transport will be crippled by Thursday’s strike action

Paris' public transport services look set to come to a virtual halt on Thursday when unlimited strike action begins. Here's how services will be severely hit by the walk-out in protest against the government's pension reforms.

11 Metro lines to close: How Paris public transport will be crippled by Thursday's strike action
All photos: AFP

Starting on Thursday, December 5th, workers across France will walk out to protest at plans to reform the French pension system. Some unions have called for unlimited strike action.

Among the workers who will be striking are employees of RATP, which runs Paris' public transport system, SNCF rail employees, air traffic controllers and airline ground crew, hauliers, teachers, civil servants, rubbish collectors and notaires.

READ ALSO France December strikes 'Expect major disruption that could last until the New Year'

When public transport workers in France strike they are required to give their employers 48 hours notice that they intend to walk out. Once bosses know how many people will be at work, they can then publish strike timetables showing exactly how many services they will be able to keep running.

And in Paris, that does not amount to very many.

On the Metro 11 lines will be closed altogether. They are lines 2, 3, 3bis, 5, 6, 7bis, 8, 10, 11,12 and 13.

Lines 4, 7 and 9 will be running during rush hour only – from 6.30am to 9.30am and 5pm to 8pm. On line 4 one in three of the normal services will be running during those times and on lines 7 and 9 it will be one in four.

Only lines 1 and 14 – which are automated so do not need drivers – will be running a normal service but are expected to be extremely crowded. If the crowds become a safety risk these too could be closed.

On the RER suburban train service line A and line B – which connects Paris to its two main airports – will only be running during rush hour with 50 percent of normal service on line A and 30 percent on line B.

READ ALSO Six ways to get round Paris without public transport 

Lines C and E will be running two trains per hour with some stations out of service and line D will be running four trains per hour.

The bus service will also be badly hit, with around an average of around one in three services running.

On the city's tram lines 1, 2, 3a, 3b and 5 will only be running during rush hour with one in three of the normal services running.

Lines 6, 7 and 8 will be running all day, with half services on line 6 and one in three on lines 7 and 8.

At this stage it is not clear how long the strike will continue for, but transport bosses are making preparations for at least the first week.

Detailed timetables for Friday will be published at 5pm on Wednesday, but services are likely to be largely the same.

RATP bosses have declared the weekend of December 7th and 8th a 'sacrifice' weekend, so will be running possibly even fewer services in order to concentrte their resources on getting commuters to and from work.

Many French people have already booked days off on Thursday and Friday, but if the strikes are continuing on Monday, December 9th transport bosses anticipate that being a very busy day as people return to work.

As the strike action covers the whole country, disruption will not be limited to Paris with other major cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon and Montpellier posting strike notices.

Transport on the national SNCF rail service will be badly hit, with around 90 percent of trains cancelled. Click here for more details.

Air travel will also be affected as air traffic controllers and airline ground crew strike – about one fifth of flights are cancelled on Thursday. Click here for more details.

And road travel could also be affected as hauliers join the strike.

Separately, a haulage union has announced that it will be staging rolling roadblocks across France on Saturday in a protest over fuel tax, which is likely to add to the general transport misery.

And in addition, a blockade of oil refineries is currently ongoing which is leading to filling stations across the country running short of petrol and diesel.

And in Paris police have ordered shops, bars and restaurants in some sections of central Paris to close in Thursday over fears of violence at 'yellow vest' protests.

The Local has put together a December strikes section, click here to see all the latest transport information and strike news.

 

 

 

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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