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What train passengers in France can expect from Wednesday’s rail strike

Three unions representing train drivers in France have called on workers to walk out this Wednesday, meaning train services will be disrupted. Here's what to expect.

What train passengers in France can expect from Wednesday's rail strike
Commuters wait to buy tickets at Gare de Lyon in Paris, on December 2, 2022 during a strike (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

Train workers with France’s national rail service, SNCF, plan to walk out on Wednesday, a day ahead of the start of annual salary negotiations with operator SNCF.

With possible strike action still on the horizon for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays – depending on the outcome of the negotiations with management – this mobilisation follows several days of strikes over the weekend which saw about 60 percent of TGV and Intercity trains cancelled.

READ MORE: French rail workers threaten more strikes over Christmas holidays

As for Wednesday’s action, workers from unions CGT-Cheminots, SUD-Rail and CFDT-Cheminots have been called to strike. 

Passengers can expect traffic to be disrupted on some regional (TER) trains, as well as a limited number of high-speed TGV and Intercity trains.

In terms of disruptions on local lines, the regions most areas will be Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand-Est, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

The Paris region will also see some disruption, particularly on the suburban RER and Transilien services on lines C, D, E and N.

Regarding TGV and Intercity lines, the Paris-Lyon route will be particularly impacted, as well as TGV routes south of Bordeaux, according to reporting by Le Monde.

Travellers should be reminded that they will be informed of any cancellation via e-mail or SMS. Passengers are also entitled to a full refund or exchange (free of charge) in the case of cancellation.

READ MORE: What to expect if you’re travelling to France in December

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STRIKES

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.

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