More travel misery as pension strikes go on

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Rail and public transport services were badly hit on Monday ahead of another day of mass protest on Tuesday.

Across France, an estimated 15% to 20% of normal rail services were operating on Monday.

In Paris, public transport operator RATP had warned commuters to only use suburban RER and Transilien services if absolutely necessary, and called on commuters not to travel if at all possible to avoid overcrowding on platforms and in trains. A total 10 metro lines remained closed during the rush hour while another four were running reduced services, and 50% of buses and trams were set to operate – though a blockade at seven of the 25 bus depots in the capital meant further bus services were disrupted.

Many thousands of people took to their cars to get into work. At 8am, traffic monitors in Ile de France reported more than 600km of traffic jams, double the normal amount at that time, despite the opening of bus and taxi lanes to any car with three or more occupants on Francilien routes heading into Paris. This measure does not apply in the capital.

There is no respite in store for the government. Unions have called for another day of mass protests against pension reform on Tuesday, a day before Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is set to reveal more details of the reforms.

The Interior Ministry said about 800,000 demonstrators joined nearly 250 marches on Thursday, but the CGT union put the number of protesters at around 1.5 million – still well below the 2.5million who took to the streets when then-President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Prime Minister Francois Fillon tried to increase the pension age in 2010.

Between 40% and 50% of teachers and education sector workers joined Thursday’s strike according to the Education Ministry – while the rail unions’ walkout meant 90% of trains were cancelled.

Source: The Connexion