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What to do if your plans include taking the train during the French rail strike?

This question has been asked a few times on different threads; I provided this response once, but everybody's not going to see it there, so here it is in its own thread.

This link on the SNCF website (in French, the equivalent information does not seem to be available on the English version of the website) shows what do to if your train is affected.

(well first, type in the number of your train here to see if it's cancelled, delayed, etc.):

Anyway, back to your options if your train is cancelled:

INTERCITÉS Si votre train est supprimé et que vous souhaitez maintenir
votre voyage, sachez que votre titre de transport est valable sur tout
autre train de la même relation, du mardi 24 mai dès le premier train,
au vendredi 27 mai 12H, sans surcoût mais sans garantie de place

"If your train is cancelled and you still want to travel, know that your ticket is good for any other train making the same voyage, from the first train on Tuesday May 24th through Friday May 27th at noon, without additional cost, but without a guaranteed seat."

ANNULER VOS BILLETS TGV ET INTERCITÉS Si vous décidez de renoncer à
votre voyage, vous pouvez obtenir le remboursement de votre billet,
dans le cadre de LA GARANTIE VOYAGE. Pour cela, il vous suffit de vous
rendre en gare, dans une boutique SNCF, dans votre agence de voyages
agréée SNCF ou d’appeler le 3635 (0,40 euro TTC/mn hors surcoût
éventuel de votre opérateur). Cette procédure est sans frais et
concerne tous vos billets, quel que soit leur tarif. Vous disposez de
60 jours après votre date de voyage pour l’effectuer.

Nouveau : sachez que vous pouvez désormais réaliser cette opération, avant votre
départ, en ligne, pour les détenteurs d’un e-billet, (sur ou auprès de votre agence en ligne agréée SNCF) et en
gare, sur les bornes libre-service (hors Prem’s).

"If you decide not to travel, you can be reimbursed for your ticket, in the framework of the VOYAGE GUARANTEE. To do this, you need to either go to the station, to an SNCF boutique, or to call (from within France) 3635 (at the cost of .40 euro cents a minute in addition to whatever your operator charges for the call). This procedure does not have a charge and applies to all your tickets, no matter what class they are/price you paid. You have 60 days after your journey date to do this.

New: Please note that you can also effect this operation, before your departure, on line, if you hold an e-billet (e-ticket), on or with your travel agency if it is an agreed operator with SNCF) and in stations, at the self-service ticket machines (except for Prem's tickets)."

I thInk I'll run out of characters here, so I'll put the third option in a new reply.

Posted by
8942 posts

And the last option during the rail strike:

votre voyage, vous pouvez procéder à un échange de votre billet, sans
frais et sans surcoût, dans le cadre de LA GARANTIE VOYAGE. Pour cela,
rendez-vous en gare, en boutique SNCF, dans votre agence de voyages
agréée SNCF ou appelez le 3635 (0,40 euro TTC/mn hors surcoût éventuel
de votre opérateur). Cela concerne tous vos billets, quel que soit
leur tarif, dans les limites des tarifs disponibles. Votre billet est
échangeable pour un nouveau voyage jusqu’au 28 mai inclus. Pour un
report de votre voyage au-delà du 28 mai, vous pourrez être amené à
régler la différence de prix éventuelle.


"If you decide to delay your voyage, you can proceed to an exchange of your ticket, without extra fees, in the framework of the VOYAGE GUARANTEE. To do this, go to a station, to an SNCF boutique, in your travel agency that has an agreement with SNCF, or call (from within France) 3635 (40 euros cents a minute for the call, plus whatever your operator charges).
This concerns any and all of your tickets, no matter what class/price you purchased them at, in the limit of available prices. Your ticket is exchangeable for a new trip up to and including May 28. If you would like to delay your trip beyond May 28, you may need to pay any eventual difference in ticket price."

Posted by
8942 posts

Please note also that last week, the adherence of workers to the unions' calls to strike was less, and thus schedules expected fewer disruptions. It's impossible to predict, but just because there is a strike doesn't mean that YOUR train will be cancelled (of course that's cold comfort if it is!). It does mean that overall the system could run fewer trains on several lines, and yours might be affected. The main thing is to keep looking at that first link to stay updated, and know what your options are.

Someone on another thread had asked about Eurostar. To date, the Eurostar has not been affected. But what will happen going forward is anyone's guess.

Keep up with the SNCF and Eurostar websites and their Twitter feeds. I don't know that much about tweeting myself, but as a consumer of information, I think it's fabulous. You can consume information without ever tweeting a twit!. The companies are able to get information out there FAST. It's a real tool to keep yourself informed if you have data capability while traveling.

Same goes true for airlines and airports etc.

Posted by
8942 posts

And unfortunately please note that right now the dates of the strike are open-ended at least through the end of the Euro Championship, that is, July 10th.

Posted by
8942 posts

bumping up as the strikes will start again this week and more people may need this info.

Posted by
2090 posts

and bumping again to keep this important info at the top. Thanks, Kim!

Posted by
8942 posts

ok now it's really starting this week.

f you follow this link
and go to
"PRÉVISIONS DE TRAFIC POUR LE 1ER JUIN 2016" (Traffic forecasts for June 1)
you can see the overall state of what trains will be running or not tomorrow.

Of course you can always check your own train (by #) by checking at this link:

A few French words/phrases are needed to follow any of this (or try Google translate, or have a dictionary to hand).

Posted by
8942 posts

Another thing causing difficulty: the terrible rains we've been having. Today there were a couple of train lines that had to stop operating because of mudslides that prevented the trains from being able to pass.

So in addition to the striking personnel, travelers these days are having to deal with Mother Nature.

(Paris just finished its wettest May on record -- since they started keeping records in 1873. We got more rain on Monday than we usually get in a month. It's a real mess.)

Posted by
9726 posts

One thing to keep in mind is that trains are set to run at 50% more or less. This is not a complete shut down.

Posted by
1976 posts

Kim, thanks for posting this.

We came home from Paris on April 26, the day an SNCF strike started (not sure if it's the same strike as going on now). We planned to take the RER to CDG that day. The front desk staff at our hotel said the RER didn't seem to be affected, but it could still be tricky to get to the airport. It WAS tricky to get to the airport. In my experience, it's always worth checking all transit you might use, if there's a strike by one company.

Posted by
8942 posts

Yes the RER B is going to be a mess again during the duration of the current "unlimited" strike. Only one out of 3 trains running, so everyone will have to squish on the few trains that are running, which will only come to/from Gare du Nord (i.e. if you arrive on the RER B from another station, you can't go straight through,you will have to get off your train and get on another one that will start at Gare du Nord - same idea in reverse).

That really stinks that your hotel told you that you wouldn't have any problem. It was clear that morning that there WOULD be a reduction in trains -- they really should keep a closer eye on the traffic websites so they can give accurate information. It's not that hard, especially when your business is hospitality (and therefore presumably helping your guests as much as you can!!).

Posted by
10932 posts

We are in Avignon and trying to juggle our schedule around for tomorrow's travel. Finding the SNCF sites above, and anything else I can Google for them as well as sites I have used for reservations, will not load. It says "This site cannot be reached." Is it just me? You'd think they'd still want to sell tickets....

Posted by
213 posts

Hi Kim,

Just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing this invaluable information! It's people like you who make this forum so great and helpful to everyone! Even though I'm not in Europe at present I will keep this information just in case I need it on future travels. :0)

Posted by
1976 posts

Kim, I agree about the hotel's helpfulness, but I also take responsibility for not seeking as much information as I could. I did look at the RATP website the night before, but didn't see anything about the RER being affected by the strike. In hindsight, we probably should have booked the hotel's shuttle and that would have been the end of it, but we figured out what to do and didn't freak out and that's what I'm taking away from the experience. It's funny to me that the hotel didn't offer to book their shuttle for us when we first asked about the strike! Easy money!

Posted by
2466 posts

While the rains continue, there will likely be more electrical failures and short-outs, which will account for many trains being delayed or cancelled while repairs take place.

Just remember to factor in plenty of "wait time", no matter which form of transportation you are using.
Bring your lunch, bring water, bring a book - just stay calm and you'll eventually get where you're going.

Make certain to contact your hotels and any restaurants you might have reserved in advance, to let them know when to expect you or to cancel your reservation. If your delay is significant, ask if the hotel can help connect you with another place to stay.

Posted by
8942 posts

bumped up since this is (unfortunately) still relevant.