French Train Strike advice

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by Class 172 Fan, 12 Apr 2018.

  1. Class 172 Fan

    Class 172 Fan Member

    Messages:
    681
    Joined:
    18 May 2014
    Had a look on the Oui.SNCF site to find out my TGV 5222 service from Lille has been cancelled on Friday as was going to Disney for the weekend due to the strike.

    Would have booked direct Eurostar to Disney but my brother wanted to spend a couple of hours in Lille, plus there was no direct Disney - Ashford on the day we had been due to come back.

    I had sent a message to the people on the Oui.SNCF Facebook page earlier at about 3pm but I had no response.

    As it's my first time using the French rail network, would I be allowed to board the next train from Lille or would something else be in place??
     
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

    Messages:
    757
    Joined:
    18 Jan 2014
    Location:
    Ratingen-Lintorf, Germany
    I am not an expert on SNCF, but TGV has compulsory reservation. So hopping on the next train is not that easy.
    Also Eurostar is affected by the strike.
     
  4. Class 172 Fan

    Class 172 Fan Member

    Messages:
    681
    Joined:
    18 May 2014
    I had a feeling of doom that compulsory reservations would be the case.

    I've checked with Eurostar and my train from Ashford to Lille is still running.

    I've tried phoning the number on my confirmation from Voyages-sncf.com for the Lille to Disney leg and that number is dead (0330 822 0333)

    I've tried phoning the French number they have online on the SNCF Q&A pages (+33 9 70 60 99 70) and all they'll do is refund me, which is no use when I'm travelling tomorrow.

    Tried tweeting Oui.sncf and they can't even find my booking.

    I had a feeling that everything was going to go wrong the other day and it seems it is going completely wrong. Why I allowed my brother to even consider Disney when Britain has a lot to offer I'll never know!
     
  5. daikilo

    daikilo Established Member

    Messages:
    1,483
    Joined:
    2 Feb 2010
    I live in France and I am sure you will have no problem if you are on the next or reasonably later train after the one that has failed to run. It will certainly help if you show you are not French. It may be best to travel via Paris as the Lille-Disneyland is I believe SNCF.
     
  6. Class 172 Fan

    Class 172 Fan Member

    Messages:
    681
    Joined:
    18 May 2014
    As a follow up to this, spoke with Eurostar Ashford (who I was using to get into France) when I was checking in and they have passed me through to Paris on their service and kindly provided tickets to the RER to get to Disney at no additional cost, and even suggested getting my TGV ticket refunded.

    5 stars to Eurostar (even though it was a non refurbished 373)
     
  7. AY1975

    AY1975 Member

    Messages:
    336
    Joined:
    14 Dec 2016
    Does anyone know whether the strikes are likely to carry on into July? From what I remember, in the past strikes have been pretty rare in the two main holiday months of July and August in France, but could happen at any other time. I guess there's always an exception to that rule, though.

    I was considering going to visit a friend in France in July, August or September, but might be better off going somewhere else instead to be on the safe side.
     
  8. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

    Messages:
    757
    Joined:
    18 Jan 2014
    Location:
    Ratingen-Lintorf, Germany
    Fly to Corsica. A wonderful little island. Just dont call it france. The locals dont like it.
    The trains are run by the local authorities.
    Martin
     
  9. daikilo

    daikilo Established Member

    Messages:
    1,483
    Joined:
    2 Feb 2010
    The government is showing no sign of backing down at present, although they claim to be negotiating, and nor are the unions. Some suggest that actual striker numbers are begining to reduce as a consequence of the hit on salaries.

    It is a fact that strikes tend to be suspended over the summer holiday period.

    At present there is other industrial and social unrest which complicates predictions, and I don't see an easy solution to the SNCF dispute.
     
  10. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    7,211
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    It might be worth mentioning, in case people reading this aren't aware, compulsory reservation still means you can book until just before departure, as long as there are seats.
     
  11. Monarch010

    Monarch010 Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    28 Feb 2013
    Here's a calendar of the strike days:
    Blue is when rail workers are meant to strike and red is for when Air France staff are due to walk-out.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

    Messages:
    9,223
    Joined:
    8 Apr 2010
    Location:
    Epsom
    Am I right in thinking that the RATP operated half of the RER plus all the Metro and Trams in Paris are operating normally on these dates as they are not part of SNCF?

    I have a trip planned in June...
     
  13. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    10 Feb 2011
    Location:
    Walking distance to CLS
    The whole thing is a taste of what would happen under nationalisation.
     
  14. Class 172 Fan

    Class 172 Fan Member

    Messages:
    681
    Joined:
    18 May 2014
    I believe so
     
  15. AlexNL

    AlexNL Member

    Messages:
    746
    Joined:
    19 Dec 2014
    RER A and RER B are jointly operated by RATP and SNCF. RER C, D, E and the Transilien network are fully operated by SNCF.

    On strike days, there will be less services on the SNCF part of RER A (branches to Cergy le Haut and Poissy) and RER B (Gare du Nord - Aéroport Charles de Gaulle / Mitry-Claye, Gare du Nord - Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse / Robinson). The rest of these lines are operated by RATP and should run normally.

    The buses, trams and métro are operated solely by RATP and aren't impacted by the strikes.
     
  16. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

    Messages:
    757
    Joined:
    18 Jan 2014
    Location:
    Ratingen-Lintorf, Germany
    I don't agree. Other countries have national operators with no strike. France simply has a different strike culture.
     
  17. urpert

    urpert Member

    Messages:
    702
    Joined:
    1 Dec 2015
    Location:
    Zone 4
    Just to add - I was in Paris the day after a strike day and RER C and D claimed to be operating two thirds of trains (though I did have one 17 minute wait at a central Paris station).
     
  18. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

    Messages:
    9,223
    Joined:
    8 Apr 2010
    Location:
    Epsom
    Good; so I can at least concentrate on my required trams and metros on the two days in question during my visit. :)
     
  19. Gerald Fiennes

    Gerald Fiennes Member

    Messages:
    366
    Joined:
    7 Jan 2009
    Based on my recent experience, I would advise people to be very wary about booking Eurostar travel on strike days. The booking I made from Brussels to London for last Sunday was cancelled, I spent about 45 minutes on hold in call centres on Friday and Saturday for Eurostar and SNCB and never got through to anyone. The booking, although allegedly had been made exchangable because of the cancellation, could not be changed at all via Eurostar's website and SNCB's would exchange it but only if I paid an extra EUR200 or so to make it completely flexible. This was all the more frustrating as this was the final leg of a journey through from Praha and I had to be in London for 1000 on Monday. I imagine if that if had just shown up at Brussels at the advertised time, ie. for the 1952, they would have transferred me to a morning arrival in London but with no hotel accommodation etc. etc. I didn't want to risk it so came back by plane.
    Anyway, despite all the blah blah about being customer friendly (which, to be fair, mostly applied in the past), none of this was on offer this week. The words 'complete fiasco' come to mind: I appreciate that ES/SNCB cannot do much about the strike itself but they are in charge of the customer service to handle its implications. NB. travel insurance doesn't do much to cover these kind of situations other than offering a few pounds for delayed departures.
    In addition, in case of cancellation the most the Eurostar will refund is the fare paid (which was about EUR45 in this case).
    The most frustrating thing was never being able to get through to anyone in ES/SNCB to talk to.
    So, given that the SNCF strike looks like it's continuing for sometime yet, I wouldn't anyone advise anyone to make a booking with ES for the time being. If it's goes wrong, you will be left on you own! You have been warned....
     
  20. Jonny

    Jonny Established Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    10 Feb 2011
    Location:
    Walking distance to CLS
    Unfortunately, France and Britain have similar strike cultures.
     
  21. Mwanesh

    Mwanesh Member

    Messages:
    173
    Joined:
    14 May 2016
    In England you cant ground an entire network .You normally disrupt only that part of your franchise.I think Mr Macron has looked at the UK way and gone for it.
     
  22. AlexNL

    AlexNL Member

    Messages:
    746
    Joined:
    19 Dec 2014
    Aren't signallers unionised then? :)
     
  23. bunnahabhain

    bunnahabhain Established Member

    Messages:
    1,605
    Joined:
    8 Jun 2005
    I don't see that as a bad thing, if relations between employer and employees have reached the point where you have to take action to fight for your rights then so be it. Its not a decision taken lightly, and the decision to strike is always made by the employees during the ballot.
     
  24. Groningen

    Groningen Established Member

    Messages:
    2,165
    Joined:
    14 Jan 2015
    What am i glad to life in the Netherlands. One dutch politician (unknown to you so i will not mention the name) said: France is a beautiful country; such a shame that they are living there. She had some posts in 2 dutch goverments as a head of a department.
     
  25. squizzler

    squizzler Member

    Messages:
    500
    Joined:
    4 Jan 2017
    I am hoping to do a bicycling holiday using the train: outbound end of may, return one week into June. There does not seem to be much in the media about the strike although I understand from friends who are regular visitors to France that the support amongst the wider population (such as it was) is waning.

    Personally, the challenge of the strike has steeled my resolve to choose rail travel and support SNCF although I fortunately have some freedom in picking dates to beat the blockade!
     
  26. squizzler

    squizzler Member

    Messages:
    500
    Joined:
    4 Jan 2017
    This article from the BBC suggests a combination of allowing flexible travel and the realtime information from SNCF is keeping the rail stations free of confused throngs of passengers:

    Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-europe-44122561
     
  27. Alfie1014

    Alfie1014 Member

    Messages:
    450
    Joined:
    27 Jun 2012
    Location:
    Essex
    Some feedback on our experience travelling from Madrid to Avignon last Monday (a strike day). The good news was that our train from Barcelona to Nimes TGV9704 was running and we boarded without problem. However the morning TGV from Barca had not run so there were additional passengers on board. The problems started at Perpignan where there were very large crowds waiting to board the single Duplex set. We were 15 overtime whilst people tried to board, there were reports of the police being called to, though this was claimed to be for 'illegals' their words not mine who were trying to get on. We left full and standing, including bikes, pushchairs and luggage in the vestibules. Some got off at Narbonne but more got on. It was announced that an additional set would be attached at Montpellier and that there would be room available on this for those without seats. In the main the staff handled the situation well, there were at least 6 of them on board, no ticket checks were made. We alighted at Nimes after our (bus) connection to Avignon should have departed but it had been held. Though the situation at Nimes bus station at 17:00 with local colleges discharging their students was chaotic to say the least! The bus replacement to Avignon, one of a handful running at commuting times on strike days took a meandering route through the countryside, crossing the Rhone no less than three times in the course of the journey! There seemed to be few actual commuters on it but mostly long distance travellers like us. After an hour or so it dropped us off outside Avignon Centre station. Whilst on the move in France were only saw a few TGVs, one local train and a couple of open access frieghts running on a route that is normally one of the main N-S arteries in France, the effect of the strike must be having a devistating effect on SNCF already depleted finances!
     
  28. squizzler

    squizzler Member

    Messages:
    500
    Joined:
    4 Jan 2017
    I understand that last Monday was not a day to be out on the rails in France! It seems there was a plea by the unions to bring the railways to a standstill on Monday 14th. This could be seen as a tacit admission by the unions that their three month programme of strikes is one the ropes.

    Just to show you that you were very unlucky in your choice of day, here are the statistics from SNCF Group on Twitter:

    14 May service level:
    [​IMG]

    18 May service:
    [​IMG]

    19 May service level:
    [​IMG]

    Participation 14 May & 18 May
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2018
  29. fishter

    fishter Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    27 Jan 2012
    Hi, daily Paris suburbs commuter here.

    The service on the SNCF operated Transilien network is affected every single day, not just on "strike" days. The reasoning being that the trains must be inspected daily and on strike days there are not enough drivers to move them to the depot.
    That said, the published timetable (5pm day before) is quite accurate with only the usual number of cancellations (one or two a day due to technical or line trespass).
    On one branch of the L line (Versailles Rive Droite) they seem to have finally admitted defeat on scheduling and simply produced a reduced timetable to cover all weekdays rather than differentiate between normal and strike days.
    When I take into account the heavy engineering works currently on my local line (the St Nom branch of the L) which mean no service after 21h30 most evenings and a complete closure this July and August I do begin to wonder why I'm paying for an annual pass.
     
  30. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

    Messages:
    757
    Joined:
    18 Jan 2014
    Location:
    Ratingen-Lintorf, Germany
    what is the current strike situation? Is an end in sight?
     
  31. k-c-p

    k-c-p Member

    Messages:
    104
    Joined:
    22 Jan 2013
    Still going on. Overall participation is down (about 15%), yet it remains high among train driver with 40++ per cent.
    The unions are talking about extending the strike to July and maybe August. In July they would hit the student exams and in August families on their vacations.

    I was in France several times over the last weeks: The special timetables the SNCF puts out for each straike day works pretty good. You have to be flexible though. I had the case that my TGV from Paris to Nantes was likely to be cancelled (at least that was the impression I got from checking the timetables on other strike days). As around the same time there was a Ouigo to Nantes, I bought a ticket for this train too and hoped that at least one of the two would ran. The TGV got cancelled, the Ouigo ran and the SNCF exchanged my unused TGV ticket for a travel voucher without any questions asked.

    Rules of thumb: The most trains run in the morning and afternoon to get commuter and business people moved around. During the day gaps of several hours even on long distance routes are to be expected. Even under normal circumstances regional services in France can be pretty sketchy, so now it can get even worse.

    Tickets are exchanged or refunded without any problems. For international connections trying to (ex)change can be a problem: On my return from Southern Brittany the clerk in the local station could not change the cross border part of my Nantes->Strasbourg->Karlsruhe ticket when my direct TGV from Nantes to Strasbourg was cancelled. They only thing he could do, was to put me on another train to Strasbourg via Paris that made sure I make the connection to Germany in Strasbourg. This fact combined with the stripped down regional schedule meant that I had a 3,5 hours layover in Nantes. Upon arrival in Nantes I took my chances and went to the sales staff there: They could change my international booking and put my on another train. In the end I was off to Paris an hour later and pretty proud of myself, that I managed to explain the whole situation in French.

    To sum this up: Strike still in full swing, the special schedules work, be flexible - The SNCF staff in stations will do everything they can to get you where you want to go.

    Au revoir
    Charly
     

Share This Page