French rail strike leads to cancelled routes

7th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

Eurostar traffic to Britain was expected to run normally, along with trains to Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

PARIS - French rail workers went on strike over job cuts on Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of all domestic overnight routes, but international trains remained on schedule, officials said.

France's state railway operator SNCF said it expected traffic to be disrupted for two days, though possibly longer in some areas.

All 12 night trains serving national destinations were not expected to be in service, though international night service was to continue, according to SNCF.

It expected 70 percent of all high-speed trains and up to 60 percent of regional trains to run on Wednesday.

The strike has divided rail workers, with the largest union, the CGT, along with the third-largest, Sud-Rail, calling for the strike.

Each day of the strike is expected to cost 20 million euros (27 million dollars) for the company, which saw a net loss of 980 million euros last year.

The strike is the third by rail workers this year, and the CGT union has criticised restructuring plans expected to lead to job cuts.

SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy said "negotiations come before strikes."

"If not, we will never be able to reduce the number of strikes at SNCF," he said.

SNCF last year said it would invest a billion euros in a plan to overhaul the freight business between now and 2015, making no reference to the number of jobs that might be affected.

CGT official Didier Le Reste said recently that the company wants to cut 8,000 jobs before 2012.


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