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How to claim compensation over French rail strike disruption

France's railway system has been hit by massive strike action that is still ongoing - but if your train has been delayed or cancelled you can at least claim your money back. Here's how.

How to claim compensation over French rail strike disruption
Photos: AFP

If your train has been cancelled or you choose not to travel because of strike action, you can claim 100 percent of the ticket price back. This applies to all services, even the budget tickets which are normally non refundable, on all strike days.

READ ALSO French strikes cause widespread disruption across transport networks

SNCF, as well as Eurostar and international operators such as Lyria and Thalys, are also offering free exchange of tickets to a later travel date.

If you booked online you can request your refund at the SNCF website, or you can go to any SNCF station and request the refund at the ticket kiosk or at one of the self-service points. You can also use the SNCF helpline – 36 35.

In order to make a claim you will need your ticket, plus your booking reference if you booked online.

If you are travelling by Eurosta, Lyria or Thalys the same applies – make your compensation application on their website.

If your SNCF  train was still running but was delayed you can also claim compensation, although not for the full amount.

The compensation levels vary depending on which service you are on, so people with a cheaper Ouigo ticket can only claim compensation if the train is more than an hour late, but the TGV and InOui services offer compensation for any train that is more than 30 minutes later arriving.

Compensation is paid at 25 percent of the ticket prices for delays between 30 minutes and two hours, 50 percent for delays of two to three hours and 75 percent for delays of three hours or more.

Refunds can be requested via SNCF's website here

Refunds for cancellations should be in you account with 48 hours, say SNCF – although if you have booked using a non French bank account you would need to add the normal transfer time of your bank for international payments on to that. Refunds for delays will be processed within five working days.

If you racked up any extra expenses because of the strike – an unplanned hotel stay or paying out for another mode of transport – you may also be able to claim compensation from SNCF as the operator does run a fund for such claims at times of major disruption, although you would also be able to claim this on most types of travel insurance.

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French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.