Belgian Rail Strike Set to Hit International Routes May 20

A 24-hour strike is called by unions over a pay dispute.

A 24-hour Belgian railworkers strike on May 20 could shut down high-speed train services to France, Germany and the Netherlands and hit Eurostar services to London, rail companies warned.

Unions representing employees of Belgium's national rail operator SNCB have called the industrial action from 10:00 pm May 19 (2000 GMT) to 10:00 pm May 20 over a pay dispute.

"The SNCB wishes to warn its customers that on that day services will certainly be greatly affected and that trains might not run at all," the Belgian rail network operator said.

Thalys high-speed services between Belgium and its European neighbors are expected to be suspended on the day, a spokesman for Thalys International said. Eurostar for its part warned that if the strike is confirmed there would be no services between Lille, in northern France, and the Belgian capital Brussels.

From May 19 in the evening, if that is the case, trains on that line would leave London and go no further than Lille. Trains travelling between London and Paris will not be affected. On the evening of May 20, the London-Brussels service will resume "as long as the Belgian high-speed train line resumes activities," said Eurostar.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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