PHOTO: Paris' Gare du Lyon rail station is closed this weekend for upgrades. (Photo via Flickr/Ian Leech)
Getting in and out of Paris is not easy this weekend. A chaotic day at Paris Orly Airport, when an attacker was killed after he tried to take the weapon of a female special forces soldier, has been further complicated by the closure of the Gare de Lyon train station.
The station, the third-busiest in Paris, is undergoing an upgrade of its signalling boxes. Originally installed during the 1930s the systems is now being moved to an off-site signalling center. The station, which normally serves around 300,000 passengers per day, is a common jumping off point for travelers to the Swiss Alps and the Mediterranean.
Even before the unfolding of events at Orly, Mark Smith, the founder of Seat61.com was quoted as saying, “With TGVs to Lyon, Marseille or Nice requiring a trek out, and TGVs to Spain and Italy cancelled, let's just say I'd postpone any travel plans until this weekend is over.”
Further snarling traffic is a three-day strike by cabin crew at Air France.
Although the airline announced, on Friday, that it intended to operate more than 98 percent of its flights on Saturday, including all of its long-haul flights, the incident at Orly has further complicated matters.
“Our operations at Paris-Orly are disrupted as traffic has been suspended due to the security incident that occurred this morning at Orly Sud,” said the airline via press release.
On Friday, the airline said that 29 of its cabin crew planned to strike on Saturday, March 17. Although that number is expected to jump to 38 percent on Sunday, the airline said it still intends to operate 100 percent of its long-haul flights. It is also estimating it will run 90 percent of its medium-haul flight and 85 percent of its domestic flights.
But it is waring passengers that “difficulties with crew compositions may also limit the number of passengers per flight.”
Air France is offering rebooking options on all of its flights scheduled for March 18-20, whether or not the flight is slated to be cancelled. Passengers booked out of Orly Airport can postpone their trip at no extra cost through March 28, 2017. The airline has also offered non-refundable vouchers on Air France, KLM or HOP! for Orly passengers who choose to cancel their flights.