French rail travel: SNCF adds 500,000 extra train seats due to summer demand

In order to meet an expected record demand over the summer, French train operator SNCF has announced that it will out an extra 500,000 tickets on sale.

French rail travel: SNCF adds 500,000 extra train seats due to summer demand
An SNCF personnel member attends passengers next to a TGV in Bordeaux (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

SNCF says it is looking at a “record summer” for train travel, as tourists flock back to France after two years of stringent Covid regulations.

In order to cope with the influx of passengers, SNCF’s CEO, Jean-Pierre Farandou, announced on Thursday that the company would put 500,000 additional seats on sale. 

“We’re off to a record summer,” said Farandou. The train operator says they have already sold over eight million tickets for the key vacation months of July and August – a 10 percent increase from 2019. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about taking the train in France

“We are at capacity, so we will add trains. We will also create double configurations to allow two trains at a time,” explained Farandou. 

Farandou added that though trains might be full for the big vacation days, there are “still spaces” outside of these periods that are available.

The announcement comes as several airlines – namely Easyjet and Ryanair – have announced plans for strikes this summer. Long lines, staff shortages, and strikes at key airports have made travel by train more attractive than air journeys for many.

READ MORE: Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

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French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Unions representing cabin crew on several airlines have threatened to take strike action over the Christmas holidays in a series of increasingly bitter pay disputes.

French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Cabin crew for Air France have already outlined dates for possible strike days, while unions representing staff at Easyjet and Ryanair are threatening “massive disruption” unless their demands are met.

The SNPNC-FO union, which represents cabin crew working in France, is calling for pay increases for its members working for budget airline Easyjet, warning that if no agreement is reached there will be a “very high risk” of walk-outs over Christmas.

Strikes, prices and services – what you need to know about travel over Christmas 2022

No exact dates have been proposed yet, but the union says that the current pay offer does not cover the rising cost of living, adding “the management will be responsible for the disruptions suffered by our customers”.

Cabin crew at Air France have filed a provisional strike notice from December 22nd to January 2nd, although whether staff actually walk out depends on how the pay negotiations go.

“This notice should serve as a warning to our management,” explains a union leaflet. “If this warning is not heeded, only a strong mobilisation will be able to tip the balance.”

So far the only confirmed strike action is at Air Antilles and Air Guyane – which mostly run flights between France and the Caribbean and French Guyana. Their staff will be walking out between December 17th and December 22nd, unless there is a breakthrough in pay negotiations. 

Ryanair crew working in Belgium have also threatened strike action over Christmas, although so far their French colleagues have not revealed any strike plans. 

Things look better for rail and ferry travel, with no strikes currently planned – although anyone with a trip to the UK planned should be aware of strike days planned by British rail staff over the Christmas and New Year period.

French airport ground staff and air traffic controllers won themselves a pay rise after strike action over the summer holidays. 

You can find all the latest strike information for France on our strikes page HERE.