France strikes: Eurostar cancels 30 more trains as transport chaos continues

Eurostar cancellations hit weekend travel plans

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 11 December 2019 09:48
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French strikes lead to travel chaos

Extreme travel disruption to, from and within France has entered its seventh day, with no clarity on when nationwide strikes will end.

Eurostar has now cancelled more than 30 trains on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 11-13 December.

The vast majority are between London St Pancras and Paris, though some services to Brussels and back are also axed.

The cancellations will affect around 20,000 travellers. In total, nearly 100,000 Eurostar passengers will have faced disruption so far this month.

While no Eurostar staff are on strike, signallers employed by SNCF (French Railways) are walking out.

The cross-Channel train operator said: “The strike action will impact our ability to deliver the usual timetable as we expect disruption to signalling along all routes.

“As a result, we will now run a reduced timetable until 13 December.”

Passengers whose trains are cancelled can claim a full refund or re-book on another Eurostar service up to 60 days from the date of the journey.

But travellers who booked hotels or other arrangements independently of their rail tickets will not necessarily be able to claim a refund nor request a postponement from the providers.

Eurostar added: “There will be major disruption to Metro and RER services in Paris and connecting trains to all destinations within France.”

Almost all Paris Metro lines will be closed until Friday morning at the earliest.

At least three-quarters of long-distance domestic trains in France are expected to be cancelled on Wednesday.

The Foreign Office warns: “Significant industrial action is continuing across France. This is primarily affecting transport and public services, with ongoing cancellations and severe delays to train, Metro, bus and tram services.”

The strikes began on 5 December, in protest against planned pension reforms – even though the prime minister, Edouard Philippe, will not spell out detailed proposals until Wednesday.

Union members fear that the new proposals will involve raising the retirement age from the usual 62 years, and reducing pensions.

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