France hit by national train strike

France hit by national train strike
A passenger looks at an information board at the Gare de l'Est train station in Paris, ahead of a national strike by French SNCF railway company employees.

PARIS - French commuters face traffic chaos Wednesday amid a national train strike called by trade unions in protest against a proposed railway reform aimed at containing the sector's soaring debt.

The 24-hour strike began on Tuesday evening, but its main impact will be felt on Wednesday with train links to other countries also hit, according to the SNCF state rail body.

Only one high-speed TGV out of two or three will run, and regional trains will also be affected, particularly in the busy Paris region.

Eurostar trains to and from London will run as normal, while three out of four Brussels- and Amsterdam-bound Thalys trains will be operational.

Trains to Germany will be unaffected, but those going to Spain will be disrupted.

"The number of strikers will be high, notably among ticket collectors and drivers," more than half of whom have said they are prepared to observe the strike, said SNCF human resources director Francois Nogue.

The state rail firm advised passengers to put off their travel if possible, and for those travelling in by road to consider car-pooling.

Traffic was already noticeably heavier than normal on the streets of Paris late Tuesday.

The strike takes place just one week before France's lower house examines the proposed railway reforms aiming to tackle the sector's soaring debt.

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