French president on the test of the rail strike
Rail traffic was reduced to a minimum on Tuesday morning on virtually the entire French rail network, the first day of a strike pearled against the reform of the SNCF. This movement is a major challenge for French President Emmanuel Macron.
It is likely to paralyze the country for three months. According to a spokesman for the SNCF, 48% of staff needed to operate trains and subject to an obligation to announce 48 hours in advance a work stoppage (drivers, controllers) was on strike.
As a result, only one out of eight trains on the TGV lines, with the exception of international trains where three quarters of the trains were traveling, of which more than 90% for the Thalys and 75% for the Eurostars. There would be no train to Spain, Italy or Switzerland.
With large regional variations, there was only one train out of eight on the intercity lines, one out of five on regional TER lines and on the Transilien, in the Paris region. Traffic was also very disrupted on the RER lines operated by the SNCF: from one train out of two to one in five trains on average according to the lines at the rush hour.
One million SMS
‘Some branches will not be served in off-peak time’, warned the spokesman of the SNCF. He reported a ‘very difficult’ situation on the entire network, all lines combined.
The SNCF asks travelers to cancel their trips on the main lines if possible and not to go to the train stations if they do not have tickets for the day, the reservations being closed. It has since Sunday sent 1.3 million emails and about a million SMS to these customers holding long distance bookings.
‘The priority is to transport people who have no choice, but with very limited means,’ says the spokesman. ‘The situation is rather calm in the train stations, but there are many people in those of everyday life,’ he adds.
The SNCF mobilized 3000 ‘red vests’ to help travelers and set up in 22 stations counters to help users use its applications on the internet. It also promotes carpooling, in particular through the IDVroom platform and ‘hitchhiking citizen’.
But coaches, carpooling and hitchhiking ‘will not transport everyone,’ says the spokesman of the SNCF. It predicts for Wednesday ‘a situation substantially identical to today’.
This intermittent strike is supposed to be spread out over nearly three months, at the rate of two days per five at the call of four of the five representative unions of the SNCF. But Sud-Rail has distinguished itself from other unions by launching a call for an indefinite strike renewable by 24 hours.