Christmas Eve transport disrupted as French strikers vow to keep up pressure

Christmas Eve transport disrupted as French strikers vow to keep up pressure
Photo: AFP
As most people wind down to Christmas, French strikers have vowed to keep up the pressure in their protest over proposed pension reforms, so transport is again badly disrupted on December 24th.

The increasingly bitter dispute over pension reform shows no sign of abating, with unions vowing no let up over Christmas.

READ ALSO These are the trains services running in France over Christmas as strikes continue

Monday saw an unannounced protest in Paris at Gare du Lyon which ended with clashes between police and strikers after flares were set off inside the Metro station.

Police ordered a further five stations shut on Line 1 – one of only two lines running normally during the strike – while the incident was dealt with.

So this is what's happening on Tuesday, December 24th.

On the railways we have in recent days seen a slight increase in services, due to more strikers returning to work.

On Monday, a total of 47.7 percent of SNCF drivers were striking – a significant fall from around 85 percent at the start of the strikes and the first time that the level of strikers has fallen below 50 percent.

This follows the general pattern of long-running strikes in France, where more people return to work as time goes on. French workers are not paid during strikes – although unions often run cagnottes (collections) for striking workers – so once strikes go past the two-week mark people start to feel a significant financial hit.

Consequently, SNCF is now able to run about half of its normal services, as opposed to just 10 percent in the first days of the strike.

Tuesday sees two in five of the high speed SNCF trains and the budget service Ouigo run. Local services are  more disrupted with one in five suburban Transilien services and one in five Intercité and just four in 10 on the local TER network.

 

The disruption also applies to international services like Eurostar – which has already published a reduced timetable until December 31st – and Thalys and Lyria.

In Paris, public transport is still badly disrupted, but again over time more services have reopened.

Half the Metro lines are now running at least some form of service – significantly up from the early days of the strikes – and the city's tram network is almost running at a normal rate.

That said, however, all improvement is relative and there is still a lot of disruption.

On the Metro lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are running as normal, while lines 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 are running a limited service at rush hour only. Many stations on those lines remain closed.

Metro lines 3bis, 5, 6, 7bis, 12 and 13 are closed all day.

On the trams the service is almost back to normal with lines 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8 running as normal while lines 2, 3a and 3b are described as 'quasi normal'.

The RER is still running rush hour only and about 60 percent of the buses are running.

These are the pre-announced services, but as we saw on Monday, unannounced demonstrations can lead to extra closures. Lines 1 and 14 are automated and driverless, so have functioned as normal throughout the strike, although at times they have been extremely busy. 

 

During the strikes, some fed-up commuters have called for the entire network to be automated, as they said that would stop strikers being able to bring services to a halt.

 

In the air there are no disruptions expected and Eurotunnel's Le Shuttle is running normally.

 


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