French national strike causes major travel disruption

 Friday, January 20, 2023 


Trains across France came to a standstill and flights at Paris’ Orly Airport were cancelled on Thursday (19 January) after labour unions called a 24-hour strike against proposed changes to the national pension system.

French commuters have been advised to delay travel and work from home as ‘major disruption’ is expected across Paris metro and regional rail lines, buses and trams.

Flights at Paris Orly Airport have also been delayed or cancelled as the French civil aviation authority on Tuesday ordered airlines to cut 20 per cent of flights in anticipation of the strike action.

However, flights at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport appear to be operating on schedule.

With wide-reaching travel implications, French newspapers have labelled the day ‘black Thursday’.

Together with rail workers and air-traffic controllers, the 24-hour strike includes workers in schools and hospitals, with protests taking place in major cities across the country following a proposal to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

National rail operator SNCF has cancelled most mainline and regional trains, advising traffic will be “severely disrupted” until 8:00am on Friday (20 January).

RATP, which operates metro, bus and tram lines in and around Paris, reported “very disrupted traffic” and advised commuters to telework or postpone travel plans.

Travel on the Paris metro was severely disrupted, with several lines closed and others only operating during peak hours.

International high-speed rail operator Eurostar has also warned of disruption to services on Thursday, with a “knock-on effect” expected on Friday.

Sixteen services between London and Paris have been cancelled, while services from London to Lille, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam were also disrupted.

TGV Lyria, which operates trains between France and Switzerland, has cancelled services on several routes on Thursday, with cancellations also scheduled on Friday.

Both Eurostar and TGV Lyria are allowing travellers to exchange or refund tickets free of charge.

Black Thursday in France follows months of similar transport disruption in the UK due to rail worker strikes, where additional strike dates were recently announced for February.

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