French rail strike rolls into third day

28th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 28 (AFP) - A French train strike launched to protest the rape of a ticket inspector appeared to be winding down Friday after three days of widespread disruption, but rail workers kept up demands for better security measures in carriages and stations.

PARIS, Jan 28 (AFP) - A French train strike launched to protest the rape of a ticket inspector appeared to be winding down Friday after three days of widespread disruption, but rail workers kept up demands for better security measures in carriages and stations.

The state rail company SNCF said stoppages to commuter and regional services were continuing in several regions, but overall there was "an improvement" that would likely see most of the country getting back to normal schedules later in the day.

Paris suburban trains were largely unaffected, as were Eurostar services to London.

The strike was launched Wednesday, one day after a 31-year-old woman ticket inspector was raped by a passenger on a train going between the southern cities of Toulouse and Cahors.

A 24-year-old man with a police record who was identified by the victim has been arraigned for the crime and remained in custody.

The woman's SNCF colleagues in Toulouse voted Friday to continue the strike in their region into Saturday.

Around half of France also had ongoing disruption.

Marseille was especially hard-hit, with only one train in seven operating, while the Normandy, southern Burgundy and Brittany regions were operating with between a quarter and a half of normal services running.

Around 20 percent of TGV express trains leaving Paris for southern and western cities were cancelled.

Unions say the rape highlighted a growing risk of assault for train staff in France. They have called for boosted security, notably by having inspectors always work in pairs.

Even if all train traffic returns to normal, "there will be aftershocks because we can't imagine women inspectors resuming work alone" on regional trains, one union representative, Didier Marchat of Sud Rail, told AFP.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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