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SNCF staff walkout hits regional rail services in France

A strike has hit regional rail services in France as members of two unions walk out as part of a pay dispute.

An SNCF regional TER train at Saint-Charles railway station in Marseille
Photo: Bertrand Langlois / AFP

The CGT Cheminots and Sud-Rail unions have called the strike – which started at 8pm on Tuesday, November 16th and runs to 8am on Thursday, November 18th – as they demand an increase in wages which have been frozen for several years.

Long-distance rail services are unaffected by the walkout, but French rail operator SNCF said in a statement that it had been obliged to adapt regional schedules and urged users to only travel if necessary.

The strike coincides with annual pay negotiations, with unions demanding ‘significant’ increases. “[SNCF] management would like to impose in 2021 a seventh year of salary freeze. However, profits [are] increasing … at the same time, the cost of living has continued to increase in recent years,” CGT Cheminots and Sud-Rail said in a statement.

Regional rail schedules across the country are affected;

  • In Ile-de-France, 80 percent of trains will run as scheduled on the RER B during peak hours on Wednesday and 75 percent during off-peak hours.
  • RER D will operate three services out of four.
  • Just 50 percent of services will run on Transilien line N.
  • A ‘normal’ service is operating on Line R, but services from Melun to Montereau via Héricy, Seine-et-Marne, will be provided by an alternative bus service.

SNCF expects to operate six out of 10 services on its IO trains in Occitanie, with disrupted services partially replaced by alternative bus services. The walkout has also affected regional services between Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Occitanie.

Some TER lines will be disrupted in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, with the rail operator maintaining 73 percent of its TER services. Substitute bus services will replace cancelled trains.

SNCF has said most regional services will operate in Auvergne Rhône Alpes – though some have been replaced by an alternative bus service.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of the Rémi and Rémi Express network will operate as scheduled in Centre-Val de Loire, though some interruptions and cancellations are expected.

The latest information is available on the SNCF regional website, which can be accessed from this link – click Changer de Région at the top left to find your local area.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

After two years of limited travel many people are planning a holiday this year and France is a popular destination - but it's easy to lose track of the latest travel rules. Here's what you need to know if you are coming to France from a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone.

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

Restrictions

France operates a ‘traffic light’ system that has been in place since summer 2020, assigning countries a colour based on their Covid infection rates.

These days most of the world is green – the lightest level of restriction – including all the countries in the EU and Schengen zone. Find full details on the government website here.

Map: French interior ministry

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) and travelling from a green zone country all you need to show at the border is proof of vaccination. There is no requirement for extra paperwork such as passenger locator forms or health declarations and no Covid tests needed. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Unvaccinated – if you are not fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border. The test can be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated – in order to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must be vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca or Janssen) and must be at least 7 days after your final dose (or 28 days after in the case of Janssen). If you had your vaccine more than nine months ago, you will need a booster shot in order to still be classificed as ‘fully vaccinated’ if you are aged 18 and over.

Anyone vaccinated within the EU/Schengen zone will have the EU digital vaccine pass, but vaccination certificates issued outside the EU are also accepted at the French border. 

Children – The rules on vaccination apply to all children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to supply proof of vaccination at the border. Children aged between 12 and 18 do not need a booster shot, even if their vaccine took place more than nine months ago.

The above rules apply to all EU and Schengen zone countries – if you are travelling from the UK click HERE, click HERE for travel from the USA and HERE for travel from other non-EU countries.

In France

So you’ve made it into France, but what are the rules once you are here?

On May 16th, France ended the mask requirement for public transport, representing one of the last Covid restrictions still in place.

Masks – masks are now only compulsory in health establishments, although they remain recommended on public transport. They are not required in other indoor spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and tourist sites, although private businesses retain the legal right to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

Health pass – the health pass was suspended in March and is no longer required to enter venues such as bars, restaurants and tourist sites. It is still required to enter establishements with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. In this case it is a health pass not a vaccine pass – so unvaccinated people can present a recent negative Covid test.

Hygiene gestures – the government still recommends the practice of hygiene gestures such as hand-washing/gel and social distancing although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid while in France you are legally required to self isolate – full details HERE.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors to France can get a Covid test

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