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France

French rail strike enters second week

Strike by French SNCF railway workers at the Gare de l'Est station in Paris, 16 June 2014.
Strike by French SNCF railway workers at the Gare de l'Est station in Paris, 16 June 2014. Reuters/Christian Hartmann

The two French rail workers' unions leading a strike voted on Monday to continue, making Tuesday the seventh day of action.

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Lawmakers are set to debate the contentious rail reform on Tuesday. The strike has already cost 80 million euros in lost revenue and refunds, according to the head of the French national rail operator SNCF Guillaume Pepy. 

The strike has already disrupted the plans of million of travellers but French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday the government would not back down.

"We don't see how the strike makes sense when talks are continuing and the government's door remains open" said Valls on radio station France Info on Monday. 

The reform is intended to address the rail sector's debt - more than 40 billion euros - which is set to almost double by 2015.

The aim of the reform is to cut costs by merging the SNCF train operators with the RFF railway network, responsible for the development and maintenance of the rail network. Parts of the service would eventually be opened up to competition.

The SNCF said on Tuesday up to two-thirds of trains will be cancelled on some high-speed TGV lines, with only one in two trains on other lines.

In the Paris region, only a quarter of scheduled trains will run and International lines to Spain, Italy and Switzerland might also be disrupted.

Eurostar links to London and Thalys lines to Brussels and Amsterdam have not been affected by the industrial action.

 

 

 

 

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