Help: French strike and whole trip messed up

  • 10 March 2023
  • 5 replies

Hi all,

I had planned to use my interrail for a full week of holidays in London. My plan was to do:

  • 11 March (tomorrow): Geneva - Paris (06:29 - 09:26 am), Paris - Brussels. Stay in Brussels the day to visit
  • 12 March (Sunday): Brussels - Lille (07:17 - 07:51), Lille - London (09:31 - 09:51) and then stay in London

I took seat reservations for all of these connections.


Now to the challenge:

  • Geneva to Paris train on 11 March is now cancelled because of the strike. The alternative train I could take is Lausanne to Paris (07:23 - 11:12). However there aren't any seats available to reserve this on the interrail site. Can I just jump in and fight my right to stay but with no reservation to that specific train (different though very close departure point)?
  • The Paris - Brussels is still ok until now so if I get to Paris with the Lausanne train and run for my life from Gare de Lyon to Gare Nord I should be able to board it. Let’s imagine I do. So now Im in Brussels.
  • The train Bruxelles to Lille (europe) on 12 March is also cancelled. There is no other way to reach Lille especially because my connection to London from Lille leaves at 09:31 am so I just can’t make it in time with any other connection (the connection Lille - London is still confirmed). So, the only alternative I see is to get into the Eurostart already in Bruxelles, which happens to be actually the same train that then stops in Lille. But reservations are sold out even on the eurostar website without interrail. It would mean getting one stop earlier that what I paid for but I dont know if I would be able to get pass security even

Someone has any amazing recommendations or magical solution? The only alternative I see right now to secure my trip is to just get over it and buy a flight but then will they reimburse me all my reservations since even the departure was cancelled? And could I try to get compensation for the flight (i guess for sure not).



5 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Call SNCF ASAP (press #85 for English) to get your reservation rebooked for the TGV from Lausanne. Pass holder availability is not relevant since they have to rebook you to any train with free seats without extra costs. A ticket office in Switzerland may also be able to to this.

The 9:31 Lille-London starts in Brussels at 8:52. I'd just try to get on it in Brussels.

Thank you @rvdborgt ! Everything is full for Paris but they told me in the Swiss station to just jump on the train haha. But my true fear is Brussels because considering the migration control and everything do you think I have a good chance to be accepted in Brussels?

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

In France, I'd also be inclined just to jump on a train. There won't be many ticket inspections and if so, they're not strict, certainly if you have a reservation for another train. So the advice you got for Geneva is not too bad, the pragmatic approach. Head straight to the bar, there aren't any reserved places there.

As to the Eurostar, you could try to get your reservations changed as soon as you arrive in Brussels. With other trains, there doesn't seem to be an earlier arrival in Lille possible than 10:51, so using the Eurostar from Brussels seems the obvious solution.

Migration control is not the issue, but the gates in Brussels are. The reservation fee is the same from Brussels and Lille, by the way.

Badge +5

Try to contact Eurostar on Twitter. If they agree they can email a new ticket. You’ll need your six character booking reference. If no luck arrive in Brussels as early as you can and go to the ticket desk. Your seat from Lille should be empty from Brussels so they ought to let you board. There are massive delays at passport control this week due to rebuilding so be early even if you have a valid ticket. It was chaos on Wednesday when I used the service!!

Ok you both really motivate me to try. Good to know the price is even the same @rvdborgt, thank you ! - And I followed your advice @cdwatkins19 I posted on twitter.. will decide in the next two hours if I am an optimistic train rider or just let it go and buy a co2 heavy flight to avoid 2 stressful days 🙏🏼.