TOURISTS rearranged plans and French commuters squeezed into scarce trains on Wednesday as day two of a three-month strike hobbled one of the world’s most-travelled railway networks.

Rail unions and president Emmanuel Macron’s government are holding firm in a battle over a plan to abolish a benefits system that allows train drivers and others jobs for life.

The SNCF rail authority said 86 per cent of trains were cancelled nationwide on Wednesday, with a slightly smaller percentage of regional trains halted.

It is too early to tell whether it will impact France’s important tourism sector. More foreign tourists visit France than any other country, according to the government.

What is different this time is that unions are threatening rolling strikes over such a long period – a few days every week through to the end of June.

The stakes are high this time for both the unions and Macron, facing his biggest challenge since he took the presidency last year.

Macron says the special status and benefits afforded to rail workers no longer makes financial sense. In keeping with his economic outlook, he believes the sector needs to reform to stay globally competitive.

Much of the French public is sceptical of the president’s plans, especially regarding proposals to push through reforms without a parliamentary debate.