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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 October 2007, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
French trains resume after strike
A crowded Paris metro train - 18/10/2007
The strike crippled public transport across France for two days
Train service in France has almost returned to normal levels as strikes by rail workers over pension reform plans wind down.

High speed TGV trains were operating normally and most regional trains were running, said rail operator SNCF.

The Paris transport authority, RATP, said service was "almost normal" except for two commuter rail lines which were not carrying any trains.

RATP has promised full service for Saturday night's rugby World Cup final.

Eurostar trains between London and Paris were also running normally as thousands of England and South Africa fans streamed into the French capital to watch their teams play.

'Relic of the past'

The protest is over plans by President Nicolas Sarkozy to end retirement privileges which let some public sector workers retire at 50 on full pensions.

In Portugal for an EU summit, Mr Sarkozy said he was open to negotiations, but the pension reforms would go ahead.

Nicolas Sarkozy
Mr Sarkozy has vowed to phase out 'special regimes'
"I am committed to this reform. It will happen," he said.

Mr Sarkozy says the special pension arrangements for some transport and energy workers are a relic of the past.

Union leaders will meet on Monday to decide whether to hold more large-scale strikes.

Opinion polls suggest that 60% of French people oppose the industrial action.

The strikes are the biggest test so far of President Sarkozy's reform package.

His predecessor Jacques Chirac tried to abolish special pension regulations when he came to power in 1995, but backed down after three weeks of strikes.

SEE ALSO
Commuter misery in Paris
18 Oct 07 |  Europe

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