LATEST: French rail unions reach deal with SNCF to avoid New Year strikes

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LATEST: French rail unions reach deal with SNCF to avoid New Year strikes

The strike that has caused chaos on the railways over Christmas weekend will not be repeated at New Year, after unions reached a last-minute deal with French rail operator SNCF.


The strike of conductors and ticket collections has seen around three fifths of trains cancelled over the Christmas weekend, leaving around 200,000 passengers unable to travel.

The current strike will continue until Monday, December 26th, but a planned second strike - from Friday, December 30th, to Monday, January 2nd - was called off on Friday after last-minute talks between SNCF and unions. 

There had been growing public anger over the Christmas strikes - which were called without official union backing in response to a pay dispute for conductors and ticket collectors - with politicians and members of the public condemning the decision to strike over one of the busiest weekends of the year.


An SNCF spokesman said: "Although the disruptions remain unchanged for this weekend, this agreement allows the lifting of strike notices with the aim of a return to normal in the next few days and in particular for the New Year's Eve weekend.

The operator "welcomes the fact that it is through social dialogue with the elected representatives of the railway workers that a way out of the conflict has been found and that the demands of the conductors have been heard".

In addition to a €720 annual bonus for conductors, the agreement reached also includes the recruiting of extra staff and a new pay-band structure. 

The strike over Christmas weekend largely affects the high-speed TGV trains, while local TER trains and city and suburban public transport remain unaffected.

SNCF was forced to cancel around three-fifths of services, and the very high demand meant that most other trains were full, meaning people were unable to change their booking. SNCF is offering a reimbursement of double the ticket price for people who are unable to travel, meanwhile traffic jams were building on Friday as travellers took to the roads instead.

The lifting of the New Year strike action means that from Tuesday, December 27th all transport in France should run as normal - threatened strikes by airline cabin crew were called off earlier in the month after an agreement was reached on pay.

However, those with a trip to the UK booked should be aware of widespread strike action over the entire Christmas and New Year period. 

LATEST How strikes will affect travel between France and the UK this Christmas


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