Despite some positive gestures from the French government and a slight improvement in rail transport and Paris Metro services on Thursday, the strikes in France enter their third week with no apparent solution in sight. Here’s the latest on the disruption.
Thursday marks two weeks since transport workers in France walked out on December 5th, and the country was still facing widespread disruption with no obvious end in sight.
A meeting between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and union leaders ended without agreement on Wednesday, although France’s president Emmanuel Macron has said he would be willing to ‘improve’ some elements of his proposed pension reform, particularly the highly controversial ‘pivot age’.
Unions have warned they will continue the public transport strike through Christmas if necessary, something the government is hoping to avoid with the new round of talks, expected to continue on Thursday.
“Obviously we are ready to work on a compromise,” government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said on Wednesday.
The pivot age has been described as a ‘red line’ by France’s biggest union, the moderate CFDT. It is proposed that France keeps its legal retirement age at 62, but introduced a pivot age of 64, when full pension rights would kick in. So it would still be possible to retire at 62, but on a smaller pension than someone who had worked until they are 64.
But despite these slivers of hope, the strike is continuing and with no end in sight before Christmas people are now focused on how to travel to see relatives over the holidays when only half the trains are running.
Detailed train timetables for the weekend will be released on Friday, but for the moment we have the details for services on Thursday.
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On the railways two in five of the normal high speed TGV services are running, but there is a significant improvement in the low-cost Ouigo services – four out of five of which are running on Thursday.
One in six of the normal Intercité services are running while the local TER train network sees a slight improvement with four in 10 of its usual services running, albeit some as replacement bus services.
Services on international rail routes such as Eurostar remain limited.
In Paris public transport remains severely disrupted, but another two Metro lines reopened on Thursday morning, meaning that over half of the Metro lines are now running at least some services – albeit mostly at rush hour only.
Six lines remain closed completely – 3bis, 5, 6, 7bis, 12 and 13.
Lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are runing as normal as they have done throughout the strikes.
The other lines – 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 – are running fewer trains than normal and only running during rush hour – 6.30am to 9.30am and 4.30pm to 7.30pm. Several stations on each line – mostly the interchange stations – remain closed.
Tram lines 2, 5, 6 and 8 are running as normal, while lines 7 and 3b are running all day, but with fewer services than normal.
Line 1 is running rush hour only and 3a is also running a limited service.
The RER lines are still running a limited service and around 60 percent of buses will run.
There are no flight cancellations announced for Thursday and after blockades at oil depots caused petrol shortages the majority of filling stations are now open as normal, although shortages are still affecting Brittany.