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French train strike disrupts holiday travel

French train strike disrupts holiday travel

Travellers wait for trains on the platform of the station of Saint Jean de Luz, as a wildcat strike disrupts train services across France. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

PARIS: French rail services ground to a halt in parts of the country on Sunday (Oct 20) as workers walked off the job for a third day in a dispute over train staffing levels, stranding holiday travellers.

Services in the Paris suburbs, the northeastern Champagne-Ardenne region and the southern Occitanie region, which includes Toulouse and Montpellier, were particularly affected.

The state railway company SNCF said most services would return to normal on Monday.

The industrial action began on Friday after a train in northeastern France slammed into a truck at a level crossing, injuring 11 people.

The train driver was himself among those hurt but being the sole employee of state railway company SNCF on board had to help take care of passengers.

Unions said the incident highlighted understaffing on trains, notably the absence of ticket inspectors on some lines.

Since Friday, staff have been exercising their "right to withdraw" their labour - a clause that allows workers to walk off the job in case of "clear and present danger to their life or health".

SNCF's management has accused the workers of abusing that right on a busy weekend for train travel, at the start of the mid-autumn school holidays.

It argues that some train lines have not had ticket inspectors for decades.

Source: AFP/de

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