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French trains, public transport hard hit by pensions strike



French trains and public transport were hard hit on Thursday by a general strike against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms plan.

State railway company SNCF said only one in 10 long distance trains would be running, while about one in five regional train services would be available but mostly using replacement buses.

On the Paris metro, only the two driverless lines were running normally, with the other 14 lines offering a minimal peak hour service or completely shut.

At the Gare de Lyon in Paris, the usually bustling forecourt and lobby were all but deserted shortly before 9 a.m (0800 GMT).

The departures board showed just seven trains scheduled to leave between then and 6:53 p.m.

With workers encouraged to use ride-sharing apps, e-scooters or work from home, the two working metro lines were not exceptionally busy.

A monitoring site showed road traffic around Paris well below normal.

Public transport workers are particularly worried about the pension reform plans as they currently benefit from early retirement rights that are likely to be phased out.

Junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari acknowledged that the strike could drag on for days.

Macron promised in his election campaign to replace France’s multiple pension schemes with a universal system that, ministers say, will see all pensioners get the same return per euro paid in.

But the leader of the hard-line CGT trade union, Philippe Martinez, charged on RMC radio that the reform would “worsen inequality,’’ as the new system would be based on whole-career earnings without making allowances for individual or career-related circumstances.

Edited & Vetted By: Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide

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