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SNCF staff walkout hits regional rail services in France

A strike has hit regional rail services in France as members of two unions walk out as part of a pay dispute.

An SNCF regional TER train at Saint-Charles railway station in Marseille
Photo: Bertrand Langlois / AFP

The CGT Cheminots and Sud-Rail unions have called the strike – which started at 8pm on Tuesday, November 16th and runs to 8am on Thursday, November 18th – as they demand an increase in wages which have been frozen for several years.

Long-distance rail services are unaffected by the walkout, but French rail operator SNCF said in a statement that it had been obliged to adapt regional schedules and urged users to only travel if necessary.

The strike coincides with annual pay negotiations, with unions demanding ‘significant’ increases. “[SNCF] management would like to impose in 2021 a seventh year of salary freeze. However, profits [are] increasing … at the same time, the cost of living has continued to increase in recent years,” CGT Cheminots and Sud-Rail said in a statement.

Regional rail schedules across the country are affected;

  • In Ile-de-France, 80 percent of trains will run as scheduled on the RER B during peak hours on Wednesday and 75 percent during off-peak hours.
  • RER D will operate three services out of four.
  • Just 50 percent of services will run on Transilien line N.
  • A ‘normal’ service is operating on Line R, but services from Melun to Montereau via Héricy, Seine-et-Marne, will be provided by an alternative bus service.

SNCF expects to operate six out of 10 services on its IO trains in Occitanie, with disrupted services partially replaced by alternative bus services. The walkout has also affected regional services between Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Occitanie.

Some TER lines will be disrupted in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, with the rail operator maintaining 73 percent of its TER services. Substitute bus services will replace cancelled trains.

SNCF has said most regional services will operate in Auvergne Rhône Alpes – though some have been replaced by an alternative bus service.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of the Rémi and Rémi Express network will operate as scheduled in Centre-Val de Loire, though some interruptions and cancellations are expected.

The latest information is available on the SNCF regional website, which can be accessed from this link – click Changer de Région at the top left to find your local area.

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France’s SNCF to offer high-speed passenger links in Italy

French national rail operator SNCF said on Wednesday it planned to offer high-speed passenger services in neighbouring Italy from 2026, competing with rival Trenitalia on its home turf.

France's SNCF to offer high-speed passenger links in Italy

“Italy is a natural market for high speed, with 56 million passengers per year,” said Alain Krakovitch, head of intercity TGV (high-speed train) services at SNCF Voyageurs.

“But it’s a market that’s yet to mature, with many passengers still to bring in.”

SNCF plans eventually to offer nine daily return services between Turin, Milan, Rome and Naples, as well as four Turin-Venice trains.

The French heavyweight moved into Spain with intercity services in 2021, and has seen Trenitalia itself look to pick up business in France on the profitable Paris-Lyon line.

SNCF hopes to claim 15 percent of the Italian high-speed market within a decade, or 10 million passengers per year.

In Spain, it has built its passenger base to 20 percent with its low-cost Ouigo service.

European business already accounts for one-third of SNCF’s annual high-speed revenues, or €3 billion.

The publicly owned firm is also responding to explosive demand for rail travel at home in France.

READ MORE: MAP: Where high-speed trains can take you in France

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