Will French train strikes continue this weekend?

Unions are calling on a different set of rail workers to take part in more action at the end of this week

A strike could affect high-speed train services again
Published Last updated

Further disruption is expected on the French rail network this weekend, as unions have now called on signallers to strike for part of this weekend.

A strike by ticket inspectors on high-speed trains last weekend left more than half of all high-speed and overnight trains cancelled.

SUD-Rail, one of the main unions responsible for last week’s action, filed a motion for ‘aiguilleurs’ (signallers or switchers for the rails) to strike from Friday February 23 at 11:00, to Saturday February 24 at 23:00.

The union said they filed the motion at the end of January, but the SNCF has not engaged them in talks since the deposition.

Other leading rail unions have not filed strike motions, however, and it is unsure what the turnout for the strikes will be.

It is likely disruption will be less severe than last weekend with only one union so far filing a motion.

Further information about the level of disruption will be known later in the week, most likely by Wednesday, February 21.

Travel bonus and better working conditions demanded

The unions want both better working conditions, and a €300 monthly ‘circulation bonus’ (indemnité de circulation).

This is because the presence of a signaller is required on all trains, meaning for their job they are frequently required to travel far from home in the same way ticket inspectors and drivers are.

They are also asking for more staff to be hired by the SNCF, to factor in the increased use of trains on the network.

Chaos last weekend

This upcoming weekend is the only one where all three of France’s school zones will be on holiday, meaning thousands of families could again see plans disrupted if the action is maintained or grows in size.

Read more: MAP: French school holidays 2023-24 by region

Last weekend’s strike ran from Friday morning through to Sunday evening, and the SNCF estimates more than 150,000 of the million or so passengers scheduled to travel saw their trains cancelled.

Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau suggested that a change to ‘minimum service requirements’ from the SNCF during a strike may need to be considered, but reiterated that striking was a constitutional right.

Related articles

Student receives €7,000 in train fines after identity theft in France

Over-60s, families, workers: what discount French train cards exist