Strike stops French rail freight, leads to widespread truck shortagesA WEEK-LONG strike against the French state railway, Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer (SNCF), has stopped rail freight, driving shippers and forwarders to seek what few alternatives there are in the annual busy season.Fret SNCF said it continued to maintain what is effectively an embargo on shipments until further notice, reported Lloyd's List, as maritime port workers protested against government reform proposals.Shippers are said to have been surprised by the duration of the strike, said a spokesman for the French shippers council, the AUTF. "The general view was that industrial action would last one to two days, but here we are almost a week later and it's still going on," Mr Rose said."Some of our members anticipated the impact of the strike in transferring loads to trucks, but others, especially bulk shippers, do not have this option and their traffic flows are being disrupted."In contrast to block trains and single-wagon traffic, swap bodies and rail containers appear to be faring better during the strike, as 55 per cent of 'combi' loads in France are transported by rail operators other than Fret SNCF."Roughly 50 per cent of scheduled intermodal trains operated in the early days of the strike, but we don't yet have an estimation for last Friday and today," said general secretary of France's combined (road-rail) transport operators' trade body, the GNTC, Jean-Yves Plisson. "But the 'combi' trains operated by private firms are still prone to disruption if the SNCF staff responsible for the rail network's infrastructure are on strike," he said.Mr Plisson also emphasised that while the GNTC's members had the flexibility to transfer their transport requirements to road, especially for time-sensitive shipments such as perishables, it still meant re-organising return loads that had rail bookings."Another factor to take into account is that June is a busy month in the freight transport calendar and road haulage capacity tight," he added.