Rail strike, new air link between UK and France, EU checks: eight travel updates

We take a look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week.

Ryanair launches new Toulouse-Birmingham route

Ryanair is set to launch seven new routes from Toulouse as part of its 2022/23 winter schedule.

These are: Birmingham, Krakow, Luxembourg, Rabat, Rome, Tenerife and Venice.

In total, Ryanair will operate 23 routes from Toulouse this winter, with its new services generally operating twice a week.

This comes as Spanish airline Volotea announces the opening of a Nantes-Copenhagen route in March 2023.

Flights will take place on Mondays and Fridays and tickets are already available.

Rail strike scheduled for Tuesday, October 18

A strike is expected to hit RATP and SNCF rail services on Tuesday, October 18, as the CGT, FO and FSU unions call for wage increases and protest against government orders forcing some refinery strikers back to work .

The CGT has called for this transport strike to be extended to an interprofessional movement of solidarity with refinery workers.

Read more: Fuel shortage in France: union calls for wider national strike next week

Tuesday’s strike could now also affect sectors such as health care, nursing homes and other public services.

The extent of the disruption expected on Tuesday is not yet known.

France urges UK travelers to refuel cars before arrival

France is urging people planning to drive into the country from the UK this month to refuel before crossing the Channel, as around one in three French petrol stations are experiencing shortages due to refinery strikes.

The UK Foreign Office has also updated its advice to this effect.

Fuel shortages are most felt in the north, with Hauts-de-France, Ile-de-France and Centre-Val de Loire being the hardest hit.

Read more: Fuel shortage in France: Progress made to end strikes, but no deal yet

Read more: About a week for fuel shortages in France to end, Macron estimates

Port of Dover boss reiterates concerns over entry/exit system delays

Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said again expressed concern on the potential for long delays for travelers during the introduction of the new EU Entry/Exit System (EES).

He told MPs on the transport select committee that the new system – which will require UK citizens entering the EU to provide biometric information such as fingerprints and photographs – could mean checks take up to 10 minutes per car compared to two at the moment.

Read also: Port of Dover boss warns of security concerns and delays with new EU checks

Read also: Logistic concerns about the EU entry/exit system

The SEA is due to come into force in May 2023, but Mr Bannister said there had been no trials designed to determine how checks would be carried out at Dover.

“We haven’t seen what the process will be, what the technology will be,” he said.

“It is therefore very difficult to estimate what [waiting] the time will be up to the passengers. “What we’ve heard is that it will take two minutes per person to register plus two minutes per car.”

It has previously been suggested that a tablet-like device could be put back in cars so that passengers can also provide their own fingerprints and photographs, but this has not been tested or confirmed.

This method could also prove problematic, for example, if a family has a sleeping or uncooperative child sitting in the back seat, or if someone is unable to operate the tablet technology.

“We need enough time to test, test and train the new technology,” Bannister said.

“But if [new checks] arrive in the worst way possible, we fear they will, this is going to have significant and ongoing disruption for a very long time.

He then called on the UK Minister for Transport to provide further information on this so the port knows how to act.

Mr. Bannister was invited to Calais this month to see the tests being carried out there concerning the implementation of SEA.

“So I know the activity is ongoing but, as I’m sitting in front of the panel today, we don’t have that answer,” he said.

Read also: Five questions about the impact of the UK’s new border system on European tourists

The prices of TGV restaurant cars have increased by up to 91% in 10 years

Some 80% of passengers now avoid dining in TGV restaurant cars because of high prices.

This is according to information collected by France Televisionswhich indicates that the cheapest sandwiches are €6.70, having increased in price by 91% over the last 10 years.

A meal plan including a sandwich, a drink and a dessert currently costs €12.20, an increase of 76% over the same period.

Hot meals are €10 on their own and €15 with a meal plan. These prices are explained by the fact that the menu was developed in collaboration with renowned chefs including Thierry Marx.

Prices are also pushed up by the costs of transporting and storing meals.

TGV-Intercités specifies that the meals “cost nothing compared to what they offer”.

Occitanie regional train tickets at €1 this weekend

Tickets for trains running on the Occitanie regional network will be priced at €1 this weekend (October 15-16), to help people struggling to refuel due to ongoing refinery strikes.

Read more: Fuel shortage in France: how to check stocks at your local gas station

This measure was announced by the president of the region, Carole Delga, who also called on the unions and refinery bosses to work as quickly as possible towards a solution.

If strike-related fuel shortages continue, the region could renew supply at €1 next week.

Direct trains to Europa-Park in Germany will be launched in December

Residents of Paris and the Grand Est will soon be able to take a direct TGV to Europa-Park, Germany’s largest theme park.

A TGV will connect Paris-Gare de l’Est to Ringsheim/Europa-Park – located less than five kilometers from the amusement park and accessible by bus – via Strasbourg and two other stops, from December 11.

A second-class ticket from Paris starts at €49, with the journey taking around two hours and 37 minutes.

From Bordeaux, the journey will take 6h23.

Europa-Park celebrates Europe through thematic sections representing different countries. It has been voted the best theme park in the world since 2014.

Each year, it welcomes five million visitors.

Until now, it was only possible to get to the nearby Lahr station from Paris, after which passengers had to take another train to Ringsheim.

Ile-de-France Mobilités plans to increase the price of the Navigo pass

Ile-de-France Mobilités will be forced to increase the price of a Navigo package if the government does not offer help for the 2 billion euro debt accumulated by the operator during the Covid crisis, said its President Valérie Pécresse.

Ms Pécresse also estimated that Ile-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) will have to spend an additional 950 million euros on electricity in 2023, and that the operator has already found 200 million euros through internal savings to help deal.

On Monday, it was agreed that IDFM would receive an additional €100 million from local authorities, on top of the €100 million it is expected to receive from both SNCF and RATP.

“So we have to find an additional 450 million euros,” said Ms. Pécresse, adding that the IDFM “will ask the government to advance the losses [caused by] The Covid could be transformed into a subsidy.

If the government accepted this idea, IDFM would no longer have to find the 130 million euros it is supposed to repay each year until 2036.

“The ball is in the government’s court,” Ms. Pécresse said.

She added that if an agreement could not be reached, the price of a Navigo package would probably be increased to €100 per month from €75.20 currently.

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