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French rail strike adds to European summer travel havoc

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Travellers walk in a station hall on the day of a national railway strike in Paris, on July 6, 2022.

PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) – French railway workers walked out in a dispute over pay on Wednesday (July 6), adding to travel disruptions across Europe that saw strikes at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport last week.

A spokesman for state rail operator SNCF confirmed service cuts announced earlier, with TGV high-speed expresses within France pared by as much as 40 per cent depending on the route, and regional and Paris commuter rail lines also hit.

Connections to Spain and the overnight train to Vienna were halted ahead of the industrial action.

The Eurostar link through the Channel Tunnel and Thalys services to Brussels and Amsterdam are not affected, while operations to Italy, Germany and Switzerland will be “quasi-normal”.

Unions representing SNCF workers are demanding higher wages to compensate for inflation.

While rail strikes in France are relatively common, the action on Wednesday will add to pressure on President Emmanuel Macron to adopt measures to bolster consumer purchasing power.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne was scheduled to outline the government’s policies later in the day.

The rail strike comes just as French schools are breaking for the summer.

Charles de Gaulle airport could suffer further walkouts as soon as Friday as employees of Aeroports de Paris campaign for higher wages.

Some 20 per cent of flights were scrapped at the height of last week’s three-day action.

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