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Travellers face days of delays

Rail workers’ strike will severly hit train services across country – but air controllers call off Thursday strike

TRAVELLERS face severe disruptions over the next three days as strikes by air traffic controllers and rail workers combine to prevent many short and long-distance journeys.

It comes after the start of the air strike yesterday that saw one in four flights in France cancelled in industrial action that is due to continue today. The only hopeful news is that the controllers have called off tomorrow’s planned continuation of their disruption.

On the railways, just two out of five trains will be running on TGV and TER lines – with the action due to start from 19.00 this evening, but starting to affect trains in the south-east from midday. The rail disruption is due to continue until 8.00 on Friday morning.

Airports have been comparatively calm during the controllers’ dispute after the aviation authority DGAC ordered airlines using the main French airports to cut flights by 50%.

In Ryanair’s case that meant 203 flights cancelled yesterday and another 244 today. It was not just flights to and from France that were hit, but also those crossing French airspace. Among airports affected are: Bergerac, Beziers, Bordeaux, Brest, Carcassonne, Dinard, La Rochelle, Lille, Limoges, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nimes, Paris Beauvais, Perpignan, Poitiers, St Etienne and Toulon.

Easyjet says it cancelled 128 flights yesterday and the same today with the following airports being affected: Bordeaux: six flights; Lyon: 19 flights; Paris Orly: 28 flights; Paris Charles-de-Gaulle: 40 flights; Toulouse: 22 flights; Nice: 34 flights.

British Airways says that some services from the following airports will be affected: Paris Orly and Charles-de-Gaulle, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Lyon.

On all airlines, passengers should have received information by email or text on the status of their flights.

On the trains, SNCF said that only one in three trains will be running to the south-east and routes away from Paris. Elsewhere, it expects four out of 10 to run on TGV Nord and two out of three on Atlantique and East routes.

Local TER trains will be running at four out of 10 and the Intercités service will be at three out of 10.

In Ile-de-France, the RER service will be hit on lines B and D with one train in three and direct connections at Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon will be disrupted. On lines C and E 50% of trains will run and on RER A the service will be “close to normal”.

Traffic will be normal on Eurostar services to London, Thalys to Brussels and Amsterdam and the Alléo train to Germany. Services towards Switzerland and Italy will, however, be affected.

The air controllers’ strike is over plans to open up Europe’s skies and bring in coordinated air control services. The rail workers are protesting against government plans for the future of the industry and feared job cuts.

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