A million Parisians in transport hell after commuter head-butts train driver, sparking strike

Commuters make their way along the passageways of the RER Paris-suburban train network at the Chatelet-Les Halles station in Paris on Jan 29, 2015, during a strike on the RER A line in response to an assault against a driver on the line a day earlier
Commuters make their way along the passageways of the RER Paris-suburban train network at the Chatelet-Les Halles station in Paris on Jan 29, 2015, during a strike on the RER A line in response to an assault against a driver on the line a day earlier. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Over a million Parisians faced commuter hell on Thursday when drivers on one of Europe's busiest train lines went on strike after a passenger assaulted one of their colleagues.

There were chaotic scenes at stations across the capital after the RER A line - which cuts across the city and carries 1.2 million people a day - was totally stopped.

The strike began the night before when a passenger in Torcy, east of Paris, got his hand stuck in the closing doors and then head-butted the driver when he came to deal with the situation.

Drivers across the whole line then decided to go on strike in solidarity, demanding greater security - the first time the entire line has been shut down.

The line was due to resume limited services for the evening commute.

Secretary of State for Transport Alain Vidalies said he sympathised with the victim of the attack, but that the strike "did not constitute the right response".

Midday in St Lazare station in central Paris, the corridors were already full of people running to platforms any time a train was finally announced.

"I've been stuck for an hour in the crowd, waiting for it to disperse," said Eric, trying desperately to get home.