Train services from Switzerland to France hit by French pension strikes

High-speed train services between Switzerland and France will be severely disrupted from Monday until Wednesday as a result of strikes against pension reforms in France.

Train services from Switzerland to France hit by French pension strikes
Commuters board a Lyria SNCF (France's national state-owned railway company) train at the Gare de Lyon railway station on Febuary 15, 2018 in Paris. Strikes wil hit services between Switzerland and France this week. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Numerous TGV services running in both directions on the between Paris and the Swiss cities of Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich and Basel will be cancelled from Monday night due to the industrial action.

Scores more services have been cancelled on Tuesday including all TGV trains on the Paris – Basel – Zurich line. Services on Wednesday will also be hit.

Other services between Switzerland and France will also be affected including the Leman Express commuter service between France and Geneva. The line linking Basel with Strasbourg and Mulhouse will also be disrupted.

“Due to a national inter-professional social movement, TGV Lyria traffic will be disrupted from January 30th to February 1st,” read a statement on Lyria’s website.

“If your train has been cancelled, you have the option of exchanging or obtaining a refund of your ticket free of charge, regardless of the initial conditions of your ticket.”

For more information on what to do in the event of a cancellation click here.

The strike has been called by trade unions in France who are protesting against the government’s planned pension reforms. Whilst the mass strike is only on Tuesday the disruption on the rails spills into both the preceding and following day.

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Slides and climbing frames: How Swiss trains entertain children

Occupying young children on trains is not always easy. Questions like ‘are we there yet?’ abound, and even a brief journey can seem long for children and parents alike. But when it comes to kid-friendliness, Swiss trains are on the right track.

Slides and climbing frames: How Swiss trains entertain children

Youngsters and long train rides don’t exactly go well together.

Very young children often become bored and cranky. Sitting and being quiet for hours is not in their nature, and telling them, ‘sweetie, look out the window at beautiful scenery’ will likely not work.

But Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has found a solution to how to keep children entertained and parents (somewhat) sane.

All long-distance InterCity double-decker trains have a ‘family coach’ which looks like a small version of a playground, equipped with slides, climbing sets and other games.

Trains with family coaches run mainly on the following InterCity routes:

·    IC1: St. Gallen–Zurich HB–Bern–Geneva Airport
·    IC8: Romanshorn–Zurich HB–Bern–Brig
·    IC6: Basel SBB–Bern–Brig
·    IC61: Basel SBB–Bern–Interlaken Ost
·    IC3: Basel SBB–Zurich HB–Chur 

“The play area is located on the upper deck of the coach and can be recognised from a distance thanks to its jungle and dragon-themed motifs,” according to SBB. “The lower floor has spaces for stowing pushchairs. The doors are at least 71 cm wide.”

To access the area, all you need is a regular train ticket; no extra charge is required to use the playroom.

If you are still unsure which trains provide this service, they are marked in the online timetable and the SBB Mobile app with ‘FA’.

READ ALSO: Five things you didn’t know about Switzerland’s rail network 

What about older kids?

If your child is too old to be excited by a slide, you need more sophisticated entertainment.

The SBB has that as well: family zone.

“Some tables are covered with board games. We recommend you use coins as game pieces and visit one of the many dice apps for smartphones in the various app stores for the dice,” SBB says. 

You can find these zones on InterCity trains marked with ‘FZ’ in the online timetable and the SBB Mobile app.

Psst! Be quiet!

Now, if you want some peace and quiet on your train journey, the obvious advice is to sit as far away as possible from FAs and FZs.

Fortunately, SBB trains have just the ticket: ‘quiet zones’ where no cell phones or loud conversations are allowed. InterCity trains with quiet zones are marked with RZ in the online timetable and in the SBB Mobile app.