Travel woes as Eurostar London to Paris trains cancelled due to French strike action

Bronwen Weatherby
Eurostar strike: Staff have walked out in a dispute over working conditions: PA

Scores of Eurostar trains between London and Paris have been cancelled this morning due to strikes in France.

Eurostar is running a reduced timetable linking the two capitals until December 12 due to mass protests over pension reform.

The action, called for by French trade unions, has meant more than 50,000 passengers had to change their plans as hundreds of flights and trains were cancelled.

Travellers will be hit for at least four more days, affecting a further 30,000 people.

On Monday morning cancellations were announced, with the 5.40am, 9.22am and 10.24am trains not running.

The 4.31pm, 6.01pm, 7.01pm and 8.01pm services have also been cancelled while passengers on other trains will be put onto a different type of train.

Another seven services are not running on Tuesday, according to the Eurostar website.

Over the weekend, a number of services were cancelled including the 11.31am, 1.31pm and 2.22pm journeys from London St Pancras to Paris Gard du Nord.

Some services to Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam have also been axed.

Eight London-Paris trains have been cancelled on Wednesday, and a further five on Thursday.

A deserted Gare du Nord station during SNCF strike (REUTERS)

Nearly a third of all workers were on strike on Friday, including 87 per cent of train drivers.

In a statement, Eurostar said: “Trade Unions in France have called for a nationwide general strike from 5 December 2019.

“The strike action will impact our ability to deliver the usual timetable as we expect disruption to signalling along all routes.

“As a result, we will now run a reduced timetable till December 12.”

Families travelling to Paris to visit Disneyland with their children said they were "heartbroken" about the disruption.

Daryl Moran with his family, who have said they are

Daryl Moran, an electrical engineer from Merseyside, said he and his family had their flights changed as they were travelling to Disneyland.

Mr Moran told the PA news agency: “It was a surprise for my eldest daughter, who is eight next week. She is absolutely heartbroken that we are missing a full day there now.

Mr Moran said: “We should have arrived at Paris 9.30am local time, we will arrive in Paris now at 5pm local time. We have been at the airport since 4am.”

“We had no idea of the strike, we’ve received no emails off our airline Flybe nor the travel agent Hays Travel,” he claimed.

Sophia Massey, who is also travelling to Disneyland, said: “It’s a nightmare, I booked with Hays Travel for my daughter’s birthday and now we have to fly to Southampton and then connect to Paris from there, we are losing a day in Disneyland Paris.

“We booked this as a surprise, she’s in floods of tears.”

Disney-goers have complained of a lack of help from the theme part or the travel companies who supplied the packages.

One Twitter user said: "So frustrated with @ExpediaUK and their customer service. My Eurostar was cancelled on Friday due to the strikes and I've been on the phone practically all weekend with Expedia saying a hotel refund is at Disney's discretion & when I contact Disney they say it's up to Expedia.

"I'm having an absolute nightmare with no help from Disney or Expedia who just keep pointing the blame at each other."

Passengers whose trains are cancelled can exchange or refund their tickets within 60 days.

The large-scale strikes comes as in reaction to plans to overhaul the French retirement system.

President Emmanuel Macron plans to streamline the country’s 42 state pension systems, and workers fear they will have to work longer and earn less upon retirement.

The walkout is expected to hit transport the hardest as flights, trains and buses suffer cancellations, and most of the Paris subway system comes to a halt.

Trains to Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam have been axed (AFP via Getty Images)

No tickets are available on Eurostar trains until Tuesday, with the company saying it had cancelled almost 100 services between now and then.

Air France said around 30 per cent of its domestic flights would be cancelled.

Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair have also opted to cancel many of their flights to and from France.

Workers at the national railway SNCF stopped work on Wednesday evening while other services planned to shut down on Thursday morning for an indefinite period.

Workers’ unions took part in a protest march on Thursday, which police warned possible violence and damage and ordered all businesses, cafes and restaurants along the route to close.

Authorities also issued a ban on protests on the Champs-Elysees, around the presidential palace, parliament and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Six thousands police officers were said to be deployed around the city, amid fears that yellow vest protest groups and extremist troublemakers could join the action.

Read more

London Bridge hero: I wanted to cripple suicide vest with extinguisher