France braced for nationwide strike chaos

9th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 10 (AFP) - Commuter trains and metros in France were seriously disrupted early Thursday and flights delayed as a nationwide strike called by unions against the government's economic policies began to bite.

PARIS, March 10 (AFP) - Commuter trains and metros in France were seriously disrupted early Thursday and flights delayed as a nationwide strike called by unions against the government's economic policies began to bite.

The state-owned SNCF rail company warned that only around half of TGV fast trains would be running, between a third and a half of regional trains, and only a quarter of commuter trains into Paris.

However Eurostar services to London were expected to operate normally.

The Paris metro operator RATP had said that on average one train in four would be running, with variations from line to line. While the service on six lines was "normal or nearly normal", on others only one in two or three trains were running. There was no service at all on one line and only 10 percent on another.

Buses were less affected with three out of four running normally.

At Orly airport, south of Paris, only 25 percent of flights were operating normally, while Paris' other airport, Charles de Gaulle, was functioning at 75 percent capacity, with 38 arrivals and 40 departures per hour. Delays were on average around 45 minutes.

But the civil aviation authority said "no airport is closed anywhere in France."

All France's main unions have joined the call for a day of action to protest against falling disposable incomes and government plans to reform the 35 hour week.

Stoppages were also expected in schools, national and local government departments, post and telecommunications, gas and electricity services, banks, the press, museums and tourist offices.

The day of disruption comes as 13 members of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation team is to inspect the facilities in Paris, which has put in a strong bid for the right to hold the 2012 Olympic Games.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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