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French regional train services cancelled due to driver shortages

A shortage of drivers and other staff has led the French rail operator SNCF to announce that it will have to cancel some regional services in October.

French regional train services cancelled due to driver shortages
Photo credit: Bertrand Langlois, AFP.

SNCF announced on Thursday that it would be cancelling 140 of the regional TER services in the north of the country at the end of October, to deal with the ongoing shortage in train operators, according to Le Parisien. 

Full details of the cancelled services will be announced shortly, the operator said.

The services expected to be most impacted are the lines between Paris and Saint-Quentin, Compiègne and Amiens, Paris and Beauvais, and Beauvais and Creil.

In response to the driver shortage, SNCF will implement an “adapted transport plan” (PTA) at the end of the month – with the goal of training and recruiting drivers in the Oise area of northern France specifically.

The national rail service is seeking to recruit at least 440 employees for the Hauts-de-France region’s TER service, which has been particularly hard-hit by staff shortages. 

The lack of staff at France’s national rail service has been an ongoing problem for several months.

When discussing the trains to be taken out of service at the end of October, Franck Dhersin, the regional authority for transport, told Le Parisien that “the truth is that these trains are already out of service.”

“Every day, between 80 and 90 trains are cancelled. SNCF can no longer manage because for years they have not recruited. We strongly regret this transport plan that is imposed on us and demand the return of these trains when the training has been done,” said Dhersin.

France’s national rail service has been struggling to recruit – a problem that 20 minutes attributes to low pay and other constraints, such as non-ideal shift work schedules. 

On top of struggling to recruit, SNCF has faced a rise in employee resignations and dropouts of those currently undergoing training to work as train drivers. 

In the Paris region, the lack of drivers has also resulted in many cancelled services, with the impact primarily being felt on the suburban Transilien trains and RER services.

From the beginning of the school year to the end of the month of September, around 21 trains per day were cancelled on the RER D and 19 on the RER C, due to a lack of drivers to run them. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

French train passengers limited to two bags

France's national rail service has announced new rules that limit the number - and size - of suitcases and bags that passengers can take on board.

French train passengers limited to two bags

The French national rail service SNCF says that from now on passengers travelling on the high-speed TGV InOui services and the Intercité lines are limited to two pieces of luggage per person.

Passengers will be able to take one large piece of luggage with dimensions of up to 70cm x 90cm x 50 cm and one smaller piece such as a bag, laptop case or rucksack of up to 40cm x 30cm x 15cm.

A handbag or purse can also be carried, while items such as a baby buggy/stroller, a musical instrument or sports equipment such as skis or a snowboard do not count towards the luggage allowance.

READ ALSO What are the rules on taking your bike on a French train?

The new rule came into place on February 15th but there will be a grace period until September 15th when passengers will merely be reminded of the rules. After this, fines of €50 can be imposed.

Passengers on the TGV budget OuiGo lines already have limits on baggage – a standard ticket allows for one piece of luggage measuring up to 36cm x 27cm x 15cm and one piece no larger than 55cm x 35cm x 25cm. Passengers have the option to pay extra to increase their baggage allowance.

Meanwhile on the local TER services there is no baggage limit, although space for luggage storage on these trains can be limited and it is the responsibility of the passenger to ensure that all baggage is safely stowed and is not impeding other travellers.

The Eurostar has no baggage limit, other than the rule that passengers must be able to lift and carry their luggage themselves – although there are rules on what you can take with you, with bans on fireworks, knives and (depending on where you are going) certain food products.

READ ALSO What can I take on the Eurostar to and from France?

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