Rail chief says cost of French strikes so far — nearly $123M

The chief of France’s state-owned SNCF railway said Monday ongoing strikes have cost the company $123 million, as walkouts entered their second week.

Workers from French railway network SNCF demonstrate during a national strike Monday, to protest against labor reforms planned by French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo by Ian Langdon/EPA-EFE
Workers from French railway network SNCF demonstrate during a national strike Monday, to protest against labor reforms planned by French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo by Ian Langdon/EPA-EFE

SNCF head Guillaume Pepy said the cost will continue to rise as the rolling strikes will disrupt traffic two days a week until June 28 — a total of 26 days.
Pepy said losses have so far totaled about $24.5 million per day.

“From what I can see, France has not been paralyzed,” he said, adding that “clients are being heavily penalized” by the strikes.

The cancellations are affecting about a quarter of cross-Channel trains. About 80 percent of high-speed trains between French cities and two-thirds of regional trains are still running.

The fast Thalys train to Belgium and the Netherlands will be partially disrupted Tuesday and most commuter trains around Paris won’t operate.

French rail workers and unions launched the strikes last week to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the state transportation system.

Macron plans to deny future train workers the job security, early retirement and special pensions of existing workers, while opening up the indebted national railroad to competition.

The French government said it won’t back down from the proposed changes — which was introduced Monday for debate in Parliament.

Macron will appear on television twice this week, Thursday and Sunday, to pitch the transportation reform plan.

By Sara Shayanian