Christmas travel chaos in France to impact Switzerland: What you need to know
From December 22 to 26, 2022, workers at Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF) in France are expected strike over pay and working conditions. While the industrial action will not affect most public transport in Switzerland, a number of services between Swiss cities and France will be suspended, with many other services fully booked as a result. Here’s what you need to know:
SNCF strike to restrict services to Switzerland at Christmas
According to Watson, from 8pm on December 22 to 8am on December 26, signal and control workers employed by the French rail company SNCF will walk out as part of a dispute over salaries and working conditions. While the majority of disruption will be felt in France itself, French-speaking Switzerland, Geneva, Lausanne, Delémont, Basel and Neuchâtel will also be affected.
Cancelled services between Paris and Geneva
Starting with Geneva: of the 17 trains scheduled between Geneva and Paris on December 23, four have been cancelled and five are already fully booked. Of the 14 trains running on December 24, three are cancelled and the rest are full, while out of the 16 planned trips for Sunday, four are cancelled and three are full.
French rail services to Lausanne restricted until December 25
In Lausanne, five of the 18 services on December 23 have been cancelled, while six are completely full. While the rest of the trains that are running on the weekend are not full at the time of writing, a number of SNCF trains between Vaud and Paris have been cancelled on December 24 (four cancelled) and December 25 (five cancelled).
Passengers from Basel and Delémont encouraged to use alternate routes
The disruption is also expected on the line between Neuchâtel, Delémont, Basel and Paris-Est and Gare de Lyon, with 11 out of 18 trains cancelled or full on Friday, nine on Saturday and eight on Sunday. What’s more, while alternative connections are possible via La Chaux-de-Fonds and Besançon, these trains take up to three hours longer than the direct service. Passengers are also encouraged to see whether a train from Zurich is still available on the desired date of travel, as these lines are unaffected.
SNCF apologise for disruption caused in Switzerland
Lyria, the company that offers SNCF public transport tickets in Switzerland, told Watson that it could only apologise to the families and individuals hoping to head to France for Christmas, noting that they “have no means of pressure that would allow us to change the situation.” However, they did say that anyone caught up in the chaos “can modify or cancel their journey free of charge.” They also asked people to avoid trying to get onto trains that are fully booked without a reservation.
While the current strike is set to end on December 26, travellers in France may not be out of the woods yet, as further strike action has been planned for December 30 to January 2. For more information about the industrial action, please consult the SNCF website.