There have been several article this week with a travel / transport theme including half price SNCF Avantage cards, the latest on the Etias visa scheme, the planned air traffic controller strike during the Rugby World Cup, a tragedy with a car falling off a ferry and the cataclysmic landslide in Savoie.
Here is the latest on those stories along with other travel updates:
1: Road and rail disruption to last weeks after Savoie landslide
Travel on the A43 will not resume for a week and rail traffic between France and Italy is set for months of disruption following the landslide in the Maurienne valley in the Savoie region last Sunday.
The departmental road 1006 also remains blocked.
“Initially, we said it was only 700m3. Today we can tell you at least 10,000m3 [of rocks] fell,” said Laurence Tur, general secretary of the Savoie prefecture.
The Minister of Transport Clement Beaune has since said that 15,000m3 fell in the landslide.
"The rail link will certainly not reopen within two months,” said Mr Beaune “although all final details will have to be agreed with the SNCF.”
Some SNCF passengers were stuck in Italy for up to 30 hours after the landslide until alternative transport could be arranged
Road traffic has been directed to cross to Italy further north via the Mont Blanc tunnel, which itself was scheduled to close for repairs on September 4.
However, due to the closure of the A43, the Mont blanc tunnel will remain open for the foreseeable future.
Teams from the SNCF and the National Forestry Office (ONF) inspected the site this week.
Besides clearing away the vast amounts of debris, they must ensure that there is no further danger of collapse.
In a press conference on August 29 the ONF would not be drawn into whether climate change contributed to the landslide due to the melting of permafrost in the mountains.
David Binet, Manager of the ONF in Savoie, said the landslide “was due to the slow progression of an underlying geological phenomenon.”
“It would have collapsed sooner or later,” he added.
2: Paris buses to stop on demand after 22:00
Buses in Paris are to let passengers descend on demand after 22:00 from today September 1 in a move to ensure the safety of people travelling home at night.
The policy, aimed at minimising feelings of danger for passengers walking home from bus stops, has been trialled in some Parisian suburbs since 2018.
"It’s good news", said Valerie Pecresse, president of the Île-de-France region, “particularly for women.”
Passengers can now tell the bus driver where and when they want to get off along the bus route.
Ile de France Mobilités, which operates Paris buses, welcomed the extension of the measure, but pointed out however that drivers will only stop if the requested area is “well lit, with good visibility and pavement or a footpath nearby.”
3: End of ‘nuisance’ scooters in Paris
The three main providers of Paris’s shared e-scooters have now ended the service (it stopped on August 31) after residents voted to ban them in April.
The scooters were made available on demand in 2018 and could be used by anyone with the corresponding mobile application for a small fee.
While the e-scooters were successful with some Parisians and tourists, their use had been fraught with controversy for several years.
In a council session just one year after their introduction, Paris councillors criticised them for “taking up parking spaces, riding on the pavement, creating conflict over the use of public space, obstructing pedestrians, causing a risk of falling, especially for people with a visual handicap.”
E-scooters, hoverboards and gyropods were involved in 408 accidents in 2022 in the capital, causing 459 injuries and three deaths, according to the Paris Police Prefecture.
After Mayor Anne Hidalgo branded e-scooters a “nuisance”, the Paris mairie held a referendum in April 2023 on whether or not to ban them. It passed, with 90% voting in favour of the ban, although turnout was extremely low.
The 15,000 scooters were operated by Cityscoot, Yego and Cooltra, with fleets of around 5,000 each. These scooters will be redistributed to other towns in France and Europe.
The operators hope to replace the scooters with ebikes.
4: Price of plane tickets drops for first time since 2021
The price of plane tickets in France has decreased this year for the first time since 2021.
The overall average price fell by 1% in July 2023 compared with the previous year and the average price of international travel decreased by 4.9%, according to the monthly price index of air travel (IPTAP) published by the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC).
The DGAC tracks 190,000 prices each month using a range of price reference points at 480 airlines.
While the price of air travel within the EU and to the UK decreased by 4.6%, the most significant decrease this year was in flights to North Africa and the Near East at 12.8%.
However, the average price of internal flights in France increased significantly by 9.8%
The prices within France are skewed significantly by the overseas departments of Guadalupe, Martinique and Reunion, which increased by 18.6%, 14.6% and 6.1%, respectively.
5: More help to buy electric bikes
New help is available to purchase an e-bike in Paris and the surrounding areas - and it can be used in addition to the Bonus Velo.
The Île de France region now offers:
- Up to €400 towards half of the purchase price of a new electric bike
- Up to €600 towards half of the purchase price of a new electric assist bike
- Up to €200 towards half of the purchase price and installation of an electrification kit
- Up to €100 towards half of the purchase price and accessories of a mechanical bike for young people aged 15-25
For electric and electric assist bikes, the total purchase price with accessories can be no higher than €1,200 in order to benefit from the offer.
Individuals can only use this assistance once, and cannot sell the bike within three years.
The online portal for this programme will go live on September 4, via the Île-de-France Mobilités group.
Consumer rights group UFC que Choisir has confirmed that the aid is compatible with the national Bonus Vélo programme.
The Bonus Vélo is a nationwide scheme that offers to reimburse €300 to individuals with revenue below €14,089 and €400 to individuals with revenue below €6,358, when purchasing a new electric or electric assist bike.
Paris is not the only French city to introduce such a scheme. Lyon, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg and several smaller cities, towns and communes have their own equivalent schemes.
6: Brothers pay €1,000 to get home to France after UK flight is cancelled
Two brothers waited for three and a half hours on their plane in the UK only to find it was cancelled - then spent €500 each to get home to Hérault, Occitanie.
The pair climbed aboard their Easyjet plane at Gatwick airport on Monday August 28 after visiting London to watch a wrestling match, only to find that the flight had been cancelled.
Easyjet offered no explanation for the cancellation.
With their limited English and no help forthcoming from the airline, the brothers were obliged to spend the night in London and take a train to Paris and then again to Montpellier. As well as losing the money they ended up having to also take two days off work.
“We just can’t afford this kind of expense,” they told France Bleu, ”but thinking about all those people stuck sleeping in the airport, it’s really scandalous.”
Easyjet has not confirmed the reason for the cancellation, however the likely cause was the ongoing air traffic control system fault that has been plaguing UK airports since Monday.
The system fault led to the cancellation of 20% of UK departures and 27% of arrivals. While the situation is improving, National Air Traffic Services (NATS) operations director Juliet Kennedy told Sky News that "it will take some time for flights to return to normal".
Easyjet says that it will reimburse the plane tickets but said nothing about the brothers’ other expenses.
7: American Airlines flight attendants vote to strike
Flight attendants at American Airlines have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to improve their pay and work conditions.
No date has been announced for the potential strike but any action would very likely affect the airline’s routes to Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle, France’s busiest airport.
“We’re pushing back and we’re fighting corporate greed, which is alive here at American Airlines,” union president Julie Hedrick told CNN.
Flight attendants are looking to increase their pay in line with that of pilots.
American Airlines responded to the union vote in a statement: “We understand that a strike authorisation vote is one of the important ways flight attendants express their desire to get a deal done. The results don’t change our commitment or distract us from working expeditiously to reach an agreement.”
If the Association of Professional Flight Attendants union (APFA) and American Airlines cannot reach a pay deal, the APFA will be permitted a consultation period of 30 days, after which it is free to go on strike.
This potential new strike follows the announcement by the French Air Traffic Controller (ATC) union of its intention to strike for one day in September.