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France strike: Rail misery as three-month action tests Macron

Tuesday - 03/04/2018 10:20

France's rail network has been severely disrupted, as a wave of strikes against President Emmanuel Macron's labour reforms gets under way.


 
Commuter in Nice  / REUTERS Image caption A commuter ponders his options at Nice station
Commuter in Nice / REUTERS Image caption A commuter ponders his options at Nice station

The start of the strike has been dubbed "Black Tuesday", but the action will spread over three months, affecting two days in every five.

Staff at state railway SNCF are leading the strike, but the energy and waste collection sectors are also affected.

The unrest presents Mr Macron's biggest challenge since his election last May.

How is the strike taking hold?

With the four main rail unions observing the strike, services have been severely curtailed. Some 77% of SNCF drivers were believed to be on strike. The company said 34% of its staff overall were striking.

Only one in eight high-speed TGVs are scheduled and only one in five regional trains.

Graphic
 

Commuter lines into Paris have also been slashed and bus services have been hugely overcrowded. Some stations were crammed for the few trains available, others were deserted.

The website that measures car traffic around the capital recorded about 420km (260 miles) of jams at rush hour.

International services are more sketchily affected. Eurostar has 75% of trains running and the Thalys services to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are almost normal, but there are no services to Spain, Switzerland or Italy.

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 Key: France

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