Eurostar strike: Train passengers on London-to-Paris route face weekend disruption

Simon Calder
Eurostar train at St Pancras Station: AFP/Getty

Trains between London and Paris will be disrupted again on Friday and Saturday, as the dispute between French rail workers and SNCF rumbles on.

Some train staff on Eurostar are employed by the French rail operator, and four services through the Channel Tunnel have been cancelled on each day — including a key Friday evening departure from London St Pancras, at 6.31pm.

The train operator says: “We are currently expecting to run 95 per cent of our services on Friday and Saturday.”

Affected passengers have been offered seats on alternative trains or full refunds.

The action will take the number of days affected by strikes to 20 since the start of April.

The rail unions in France are halfway through a plan to stop work for 48 hours every five days until the end of June in protest against modernisation plans and opening up French railways to competition.

Within France, only half of TGV high-speed trains will run.

In England, members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) employed by Northern are planning to strike next Thursday and Saturday, 24 and 26 May — also taking the number of days of industrial action in that dispute to 20.

The union is in dispute about the role of guards. The general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “It is a tribute to the determination and professionalism of RMT members on Arriva Rail North that they have remained rock solid for over a year now in what is a battle to put public safety before private profit.

“German-owned Northern Rail want to run half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access to services and they should listen to their front-line staff and pull back from that plan immediately.”

The train operator said: “We want to talk about modernising with RMT, guaranteeing jobs and pay for our 1,300 conductors for at least the next eight years, until the end of our franchise.

“The more strike action continues the harder it is for Northern to give long-term assurances and commitments.”

Separately, the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called for an inquiry to decide if Northern is in breach of its franchise agreement.

He said: “Northern Rail passengers, the people of Greater Manchester, deserve so much better than the dire service they have been forced to endure in recent months.”

The train operator said: “Northern has embarked on a programme to modernise its services that will help make the North a better place in which to live and work.

“By 2020 Northern is committed to delivering better journeys with new and updated trains and improved station facilities.”