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Train Strikes in France [2020]: Info, Dates and Best Tips


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Last French strike update: 19 February 2020

The best way to get around France is by train. The French rail network connects just about every major city in France, is efficient, and often includes spectacular views of the countryside. If you know a few simple tips about how to use trains in France, then it’s an absolute breeze.

But sometimes trains in France, especially SNCF trains, go on strike and then it’s a real pain for locals and tourists alike.

Train strikes in France can be a major inconvenience for travelers, especially if you’re caught off-guard. These French rail strikes are scheduled in advance, however, and the dates and times are announced and posted. This means you can find out about them, in some cases, before you even leave home.

What to do if you are traveling during a train strike in France?



SNCF Strike does not necessarily mean French Railway Strike

There are different kinds of trains and also train companies operating in France. SNCF (SociétéNationale des Chemins de Ferfrançais) is France’s national state-owned railway company so most of the trains running in France are SNCF trains.

But there are other train companies operating in France, especially for international train rides. Some examples include RERs in the Parisian Region (operated by RATP), Thalys or Deutsche Bahn. This means that when there’s a train strike in France it’s important to understand that not all the trains running in France are necessarily on strike.


Transportation Strikes in France, January 2020

The unlimited strike to protest the pension reform that started on 5 December 2019 and lasted for more than a month is over. However, SNCF plans to call for a strike on specific days, when a key event for the pension reform’s negotiations takes place.


» General and National Strike on 9 January 2020

After an unsuccessful meeting with the minister on December 19, the inter-syndical announces another day of action on 9 January 2020. “Nothing has changed”, lamented the leader of CGT. The negotiations government – unions will go on during the first weeks of January 2020.


» General and National Strikes on 14, 15 and 16 January 2020
After several days of general strikes and demonstrations, and following the Prime Minister’s announcements, the trade union organizations CFE-CGC, CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, MNL, UNEF, and UNL call to continue the mobilization on Tuesday, January 14, Wednesday, January 15 and Thursday, January 16, 2020.


» General strike on 24 January 2020. 

Despite the unlimited strike is over, on Friday January 24 the strike will resume for a single day. This is because on that day the pension reform will be presented to the. Council of Ministers.

Consequently, SNCF’s service will be disrupted. SNCF will provide the information on trains and metro services the day before at 5 pm.


» General strike on 29 January 2020. 

Following the protest movement started on December 5 against pension reform, the inter-union made up of the organizations CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, FIDL, MNL, UNL, and UNEF calls for a new day of demonstrations and a general and national (inter-professional) strike on Wednesday, January 29, 2020.

This national strike will be followed by SNCF trains, among other services.

Without mentioning the words “national strike” the inter-union also asks to continue the mobilizations on Thursday, January 30 and Friday, January 31, 2020. Local initiatives can nevertheless take place.


Transportation Strikes in France, February 2020

» Transportation Strike on 17 February 2020.

The FO-Cheminots union calls on SNCF agents to go on strike at a national level on Monday 17 February 2020. This movement is in protest against the pension reform.

This mobilization joins the call for a “black Monday” in transport initiated by the RATP (public transportation in Paris).


» General National Strike on 20 February 2020. 

The CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, FIDL, MNL, UNL, and UNEF unions, mobilized since December 5 against the pension reform, call once again for a General and National Strike on Thursday, 20 February 2020.



SNCF Trains Strike on 20 February 2020 – Traffic Forecast

Train Strikes in France

Due to the general national strike planned on Thursday 20 February 2020, the SNCF traffic might be disrupted on the entire French network.

Throughout this strike, information on trains will be available the previous day at 5 pm. Then, you can check if your specific train is canceled or not here


SNCF Traffic Forecast for Thursday 20 February 2020

Like always, SNCF provides the information on trains service the day before at 5 pm (19 February at 5 pm). Despite the call for the strike, SNCF trains traffic will be almost normal with minor disruptions on the Transilien, and TER lines.


Are Eurostar trains affected by the Transportation Strike in France?

Eurostar trains are not on strike but the strike action is impacting their ability to deliver the usual timetable as they expect disruption to signaling along all routes. As a result, Eurostar is now running a reduced schedule until the end of the strike.

If your booked train is canceled, you can exchange or refund your ticket here.

Click here to find more information on Eurostar impacts and what to do if your journey is affected.


Are Thalys trains affected by the Transportation Strike in France? 

Thalys trains are not on strike but the strike action is impacting their ability to deliver the usual timetable as they expect disruption to signaling along all routes. As a result, Thalys is now running a reduced schedule until the end of the strike.

Click here to find more information on Thaly’s impacts and what to do if your journey is affected.


Are TGV Lyria trains affected by the Transportation Strike in France?

Due to the inter-sector national strike, TGV Lyria traffic is seriously disrupted across the entire network since 5 December 201.

TGV Lyria traffic, limited to the Zurich-Basel-Paris service in the first days of the strike, has resumed since Wednesday 11 December between Geneva and Paris, will resume from Friday 20 December between Lausanne and Paris, and will continue to increase in the coming days.

The list of trains canceled for the next days is already available on TGV Lyria website


Are Deutsche Bahn trains be affected by the Transportation Strike in France? 

Due to the inter-sector national strike in France, many Deutsche Bahn trains to /from France are canceled. You can check your train status here.

Travelers affected by the French strike can exchange their tickets free of charge at all SNCF points of sale for a ticket valid for another direct train traveling on the same route to Germany.


Train Transportation from Paris Airports to City

IMPORTANT: trains from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris city center are operated half by SNCF (from CDG Airport to Paris Gare du Nord) and half by RATP (from Paris Gare du Nord to the end of the line). During the SNCF strike, expect some disruptions on the CDG Airport to Paris section. Also, the interconnection SNCF – RATP might be suspended.

If you are traveling from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to the city during a strike day there are two good alternatives to avoid the trains strike hassle:

» Consider  Welcome ‘s transfer services for private transportations from airport to city. Welcome has good cars and the best English speaking drivers in Paris. This service is ideal for groups, families with kids and couples.

» You can also book a shared transportation service with Get Your Guide. This service is just 6€ more for your peace of mind (the ticket Paris CDG to the city costs 12€).

We recommend booking these services in advance, especially during the holidays. Christmas and the last days of the year are peak season in Paris, with many people traveling.


Train Transportation from Paris CDG Airport to Other Cities in France

The TGV train station located in Charles de Gaulle Airport allows visitors to travel to other parts of France without going through the hassle of Paris. Top routes from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) T2 include Strasbourg, Rennes, Nantes, Lyon, Lille or Marseille.

If SNCF cancels these trains, we recommend renting a car at Charles de Gaulle Airport, as soon as you can. There is also the bus option but this implies traveling to Paris to catch the bus.

>>  Click here to browse the car companies operating in CDG Airport


What to Do if there’s an SNCF Strike in France?

Transportation Strike in France

We cannot say that French railway strikes are infrequent. From time to time they happen. You might be lucky and travel around France many times without never dealing with a transportation strike in France. But it only takes one instance of having travel plans thwarted by an unexpected strike, however, to ruin a trip. These are our tips to deal with an SNCF trains strike.


a- Learning About the French Trains Strike in Advance

The good news is that France schedules its strikes in advance, meaning there are some ways you can avoid dealing with them entirely even if you have already your train tickets.

There are many ways to learn about strikes in France: newspapers, radio, or even travel blogs like this one!

By checking the French trains strike schedule ahead of time, you may be able to adjust travel plans or avoid traveling during the day when the strike is going to take place.


b- Understanding what kind of Trains are on Strike in France

France Train Travel

As mentioned above, a trains strike in France does not mean that all the French rail network is on strike. Is it an SNCF strike? What kind of trains are on strike? What kind of train have you booked?


c- Tips for Getting Around during an SNCF Strike in France 2020

Gare du Nord - Paris

Ok, so there’s an SNCF strike and you have planned /scheduled a train journey in France for exactly that day. What to do?

The bad news is that in France, when strikes are scheduled, there are no”guaranteed minimum transport services.” Service depends mostly on what (trains) and who (drivers) are available. In other words, if SNCF wants to shut down its service they can do it.


You have not booked your SNCF train tickets yet

Usually, as soon as SNCF strike dates are announced, these dates are blocked in the trains reservation system so users won’t be able to book an SNCF trike for those dates anymore. Review your travel plans or find an alternative means of transportation (for example renting a car) for reaching your destination during these train strike dates.

>>  Click here to browse the car companies operating in France


You have booked your train tickets with SNCF

First of all, don’t panic! Let’s follow together these simple steps:

1. Check the SNCF train status, if your train is one of the SNCF canceled trains or not.

To do this, click on the SNCF website and then click on “Train Number”. Enter your train number (it’s marked on the ticket) and your travel date. The system will tell you immediately the status of your train.

2. The SNCF train status says your train is not canceled.

If your train is not canceled don’t worry! Perhaps there will be some disruptions or delays but you should be ok.

3. The SNCF train status says your train is part of the SNCF canceled trains

Oh no! This is too bad. If your train is canceled, SNCF proposes different solutions:

  • You can exchange your train ticket at no extra cost. Just follow the instructions shown on this page and, very important, verify before the last click that you don’t have to pay anything.
  • You can cancel your trip and get a refund. If you prefer to be refunded, just follow the instructions shown on this page.
  • If for any reason your ticket is stated as “non-refundable” or the website does not propose you a total refund (please verify this before the last click!), stop everything you are doing and contact them directly with your ticket reference number.
  • If you booked your train with Ouigo trains, contact them directly for an exchange or refund (sorry, no page in English found).

Click here to read more France Travel Tips

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