Transport problems continue in France on Friday as record strike enters 30th day

Rail passengers and commuters in France face more travel problems on Friday as long-running strikes continue. There is, however, a slight improvement in the number of trains running.

Transport problems continue in France on Friday as record strike enters 30th day
Friday is the record 30th day of the ongoing strike against pension reforms. Photo: AFP

As the ongoing transport strike against the French government's pension reform plan entered the record 30th day, there was a slight increase in the number of trains running compared to previous days and weeks.

Two thirds of TGV InOui trains were operating as well as 70 percent of the low-cost OuiGo high-speed services.

Some one third of Intercité mainline trains were also in service along with around half of the regional TER trains. Both services were however disrupted in several areas on Friday with buses ensuring parts of the TER journeys.

In the Paris region two out of five Transilien services were operating.

The number of SNCF workers on strike has been falling steadily since the beginning of the strike, but the number of drivers joining the walk-out remains fairly high, which is why widespread disruption continues.

On Thursday around one third of train drivers were on strike, compared to over 70 percent at the start of the movement which began on December 5th.

The RATP rail operator also warned of continued traffic disruption the Parisian Metro network on Friday.

Ten of the 14 Metro lines (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13) offered limited services during the morning and evening rush hours (from 6.30am-9.30am and from 4.30pm-7.30pm) on the main sections of the lines.

Line 2 ran a reduced service during the morning rush hour, while line 12 would only be running during the evening rush hour. Line 3bis would also only operate in the evening, but with limited services.

Lines 1 and 14 ran a normal service as usual, as both are automated.

Line 7bis is the only line that kept completely shut. The tweet below has all the details.

However around 20 Metro stations remained closed all day including much-frequented stops like République, Gare de l’Est and Montparnasse. 

The trams ran largely as normal all day on Friday, and bus services were reduced to an average of three out of four.

The RER lines, which connects Paris with its suburbs, ran on a reduced service on Friday.

RER services A and B limited the number of trains running to one out of two and one out of three respectively. As for the RERs C and D one out of four trains were operating, but only for parts of the lines.

The RATP apologised in a tweet for the inconvenience caused and said that it had deployed 1,200 of its 'gilet verts' ('green vests') personnel to ensure the safety of travellers.

The standoff over the government's plan to merge 42 pension schemes into a single, points-based system has seen workers at the state-owned SNCF railway company and Paris' RATP public transport operator down tools since December 5th.

Hundreds of thousands of strikers and their supporters turned out for three mass rallies in recent weeks. Rail workers were joined by teachers, hospital workers and other public-sector employees angry about the overhaul, which they fear will leave pensioners poorer.

READ ALSO: Strikes in France – The crucial dates that will determine what happens next

The previous longest SNCF strike, over salary and working conditions, lasted for 28 days in 1986 and early 1987.

The latest action has crippled public transport, particularly in Paris and its outskirts, and severely disrupted regional and long-distance trains, with thousands having to cancel or modify their plans for the year-end holidays.

Workers on strike forfeit their salary.

READ ALSO: Striking in France – what are the rules and do strikers get paid?

Two days have been set aside for fresh negotiations starting on Tuesday next week, followed by another day of mass mobilisation called by unions for January 9th.

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