Strikes in France: Paris woman gives birth on RER commuter train during rush hour crush

In the midst of the chaos caused by a mass transport strike, one Paris woman had a particularly memorable journey home - giving birth at a station on the RER suburban train network.

Strikes in France: Paris woman gives birth on RER commuter train during rush hour crush
RER services have been extremely crowded in recent days. Illustration photo: AFP

The young woman boarded the RER train at Gare de Lyon on Wednesday evening, heading out to the southern Paris suburbs.

But during the journey she went into labour, giving birth at the Villeneuve-Saint-Georges station on the outskirts of Paris.


She had a healthy baby girl, reported SNCF officials, adding that although the traffic on the line had to be interrupted, her fellow commuters reacted positively.

The RER service which links Paris to its suburbs has been badly hit by the strike, with an average of one in three services running during rush hour.

This has meant that the services have been extremely busy in recent days as desperate commuters struggle to reach the further out suburbs, from which walking or cycling into Paris is not an option.

READ ALSO Why those in the Paris suburbs are the worst hit by the ongoing strikes

The crush prompted scenes of near panic at Gare du Nord station on Monday as thousands of people tried to cram onto one of the few trains running.


Births in RER trains happen every so often and it has become a custom for SNCF to offer a permanent Navigo travel pass to every child born inside their rolling stock. 

This is also the case on the Metro – a boy born on the Line 6 in November 2018 was given a free Navigo card until his 25th birthday. 

“We have a new customer and we are going to welcome the newborn with a gesture,” said a SNCF spokesperson without providing any further detail.

READ ALSO How strikes are hitting transport in France on Thursday

By Jean-Baptiste Andrieux

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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.