Planning Train Travel

SNCF Strike & French Rail Strike Dates 2021: Info and Best Tips


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About French Rail Strikes

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 countryside views. If you know a few simple tips about using trains in France, then it’s an absolute breeze.

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. However, these French train strikes are scheduled in advance, and the French train strike dates and times are announced and posted online. This means you can find out about them, in some cases, before you even leave home.

Last update: 17 December 2021

Train Station in France

Is there a strike in France tomorrow? Are the trains running in France? What to do if you are traveling during a French rail strike? This article gives information and our best tips on how to deal with train strikes in France.

SNCF Strike or TGV Strike Does not Necessarily Mean Train Strikes in France

Different trains and train companies operate in France. SNCF (SociétéNationale des Chemins de Fer Français) is France’s national state-owned railway company, so most of the trains running in France are SNCF trains (TGV trains and other types of trains).

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

GOOD TO KNOW: General Strikes usually involve SNCF trains and other French train companies.

France Train Strike Schedule 2021

Train Strikes in France

The French train strike dates 2021 shown in this article are strikes officially confirmed. No rumors, no cristal ball about any French railway strike.

Unfortunately, some France train strikes are confirmed only 24 hours before, when negotiations with the French State fail. But the unions can also cancel the strike last minute if they find an agreement with the French State. This means that when there’s a train strike, it is necessary to be checking about this strike until the last minute.

» SCHEDULED SNF STRIKE OR OTHER FRENCH RAIL STRIKES: SNCF TGV train strikes from 17 to 20 December 2021. New!


France Train Strike – Traffic Forecast

18-19 December 2021 | Several SNCF unions call for a strike this weekend, the first of the Christmas holidays, on the North Axis (Paris-Lille). They demand salary increases and an improvement of working conditions. New!

17 to 20 December 2021 | Three SNCF unions call for a strike on the TGV South-eastern axis this weekend, the first of the Christmas holidays. They demand salary increases. The TGV Atlantique axis is also affected by this strike. Update: this strike was canceled for the weekend.

Are Eurostar Trains Affected by a French Rail Strike?

Even if Eurostar trains are not on strike, any French rail strike could impact their ability to deliver the usual timetable for their train routes in France.

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

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

Are Thalys Trains Affected by a France Train Strike? 

Even if Thalys trains are not on strike, any France train strike could impact their ability to deliver the usual timetable for their France routes.

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 a France Rail Strike?

Even if TGV Lyria trains are not on strike, any France rail strike could impact their ability to deliver the usual timetable for their France routes.

Click on TGV Lyria website for more information on TGV Lyria trains.

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

Transportation Strike in France

We cannot say that in France, train strikes are infrequent. From time to time, they happen. You might be lucky and travel around France many times without ever 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 a TGV strike or any other SNCF strike.

a- Learn About the SNCF Strike Dates 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 already have your train tickets.

There are many ways to learn about French train strikes: newspapers, radio, or even travel blogs like this one! If you have joined our private Facebook Group France Bucket List, we usually warn about these strikes in advance.

By checking the France train 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- Understand What Kind of Trains are on Strike in France

France Train Travel

As mentioned above, a train 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?

Tips for Getting Around During an SNCF Strike in France 2021

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 when strikes are scheduled in France, 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 all its services, 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 train 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. Check out our top tips for renting a car in France.

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

You Have Booked your Train Tickets with SNCF

First of all, don’t panic! Follow 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 the tab ‘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).

Airport – Paris Train Strike

GOOD TO KNOW: 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). If there’s an SNCF strike or a RATP strike, expect some disruptions on one of the two sections. Also, the interconnection SNCF – RATP might be suspended.

If you are traveling from Charles de Gaulle Airport or Orly Airport to the city during a Paris train strike there are two good alternatives to avoid the hassle of the train:

» 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 Viator. 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 holidays or the high season, when many people travel.

TGV Strike – 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 Paris. Top routes from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) T2 include Strasbourg, Rennes, Nantes, Lyon, Lille, or Marseille.

If there’s a TGV strike and your TGV train departing from the airport is canceled, 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 Charles de Gaulle Airport

Click here to read more about Train Travel in France

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