France Lowers Railway Ticket Prices
French officials at the French National Railway Corporation (SNCF) announced on Friday that they will be lowering the price of tickets for the country's Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) high-speed rail service. The new discount will begin on May 15 and tickets will be available at a reduced cost through August 31.
Beginning on March 22, French railway workers started going on strike in response to President Emmanuel Macron's new plan to transform the SNCF, which is over $57 billion in debt. Macron has proposed transitioning the organization into a limited liability company and wants to close railroad lines that see less traffic. Macron is also seeking to slash rail workers benefits, including retirement at 52, subsidized housing for rail employees and reduced train travel costs for workers and their relatives. Employees are most critical of Macron's plan to change their standard contracts, allowing them to be more easily fired.
About half of France's railway workers have participated in the 36 days of the strike, while less than 15% of SNCF have gone on strike at a given time. As a result of the rolling strikes, commuters have been eschewing suddenly unreliable trains for automobiles. After the main strikes launched on April 3, massive traffic jams clogged roads in Île-de-France and commuters waited for hours to get a spot on one of the trains that was still running. With this new pricing initiative, TGV hopes to lure wary commuters back to the high speed railways.
As part of the new price cut, TGV tickets will now be available for less than $47. Tickets for children between 4 and 12, which normally retail for about half the price of adult tickets, will also be steeply discounted. Commuters 60 years and older will also see a price reduction for their tickets.
France is not the only European country facing railway strikes. England's National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers launched their own strike on May 9 to protest the removal of safety guards from trains. The strike has disrupted service in Yorkshire, North West England and North East England.
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