EES app in trial stage, deal to reduce ferry wait times: 6 latest updates on traveling to France

We'll also explore issues such as new flights to the US, day train strikes around Paris, and the issue of booking international rail travel.

Clockwise from top left: more Air France flights to the US, EES app 'testing', more Eurostar trains, ferry deal to reduce waiting times at Dover

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In this week's travel news, How to avoid traffic jams during the busy Pentecost weekend, Ryanair withdraws from Bordeaux airport and a suspended prison sentence TGV conductor whose “negligence'' caused fatal accident in 2015.

Here are six more travel stories that inspired France.

Ferry latest information

Ferry companies agree to reduce waiting times at Dover port

P&O Ferries and Irish Ferries have agreed to reduce waiting times for passengers at Dover by allowing ticket holders from either company to board the next available ferry. announced that it had been reached.

The agreement, announced on May 14, will initially be limited to freight transport, but will be extended to foot and vehicle passengers at a later date. It should be effective for passengers by this summer, increasing flexibility, especially during peak times.

There are fears of long waiting times in Dover due to the expected introduction of the new Entry and Exit Control System (EES), which is expected to begin in the autumn.

Read more: 7 readers' questions answered about France and the UK's new border checks

Additionally, Irish Ferries announced on May 16 that it will add a new ferry, Spirit of Britain, to the Dover-Calais route from June.

air update

Air France expands US flights with 2024/25 winter program

Air France is expanding two existing routes to the United States and adding three new routes from Paris-Charles de Gaulle this winter as part of its winter program.

The US routes are:

  • denverColorado – Previously available only in the summer

  • phoenixArizona – begins May 23 and continues throughout the year.

Air France is also launching three new routes:

  • salvador de bahiaBrazil – from October 28th

  • smallMaldives – December 20th to January 5th

  • KirunaSweden – from December 21st

EES update

New access system app in pilot stage

Frontex, Europe's border and coast guard agency, will hold an “industry day” on May 29th for web developers of future access system apps. Among other things, the company is seeking input on software to help manage queues. Securely scan your travel documents.

This promising app will be used by millions of people from the autumn when new EES border checks are introduced at ports of entry into the EU for non-EU travelers.

Countries must agree to allow use of the app, but France has not announced permission so far.

Read more: New UK-France border checks: visas, residence cards and where to queue?

The agency says a pilot version of the app is currently being tested, but is interested in hearing developers' suggestions for improving the following:

  • Facial image capture technology

  • Mobile self-service fingerprint authentication

  • Solutions to scan travel documents

  • queue management software

  • Obtaining biometric data

It is widely expected that the EES will begin with: Phased “soft launch” from October 6th.

Rails updates

Eurostar to order up to 50 new trains by 2030

Eurostar has announced it will order up to 50 new trains by 2030, after making a profit of 2 billion euros in 2023 and achieving a record haul of 19 million passengers.

Eurostar currently operates 51 trains and plans to increase the number of passengers to 30 million a year by 2030.

The company has not announced how the new trains will affect prices, but the increased capacity should help bring prices down.

Additionally, Getlink (formerly Eurotunnel), which manages the tunnel and operates LeShuttle, announced plans in May to increase its passenger capacity.

“When we analyze tunnel traffic, it is clear that it has the potential to be underutilized today, particularly for direct links between London and other European capitals,” said GetLink CEO ) said Jan Lerich.

Read more: Channel Tunnel turns 30 today

SNCF digital reservation stops functioning for international trains

From May 23, passengers will no longer be able to book cross-border travel on foreign rail companies on SNCF's digital platform SNCF Connect.

This concerns train tickets booked on SNCF Connect after May 23rd. Tickets must be valid until that date.

The SNCF Connect mobile app and website allows passengers to reserve and purchase tickets and download a digital copy for scanning by SNCF personnel.

But the system has a checkered history. Payment glitches have been occurring for a long time, do not systematically offer passengers the lowest price available, do not take into account SNCF buses, and provide more thorough passenger information than when purchasing at the station is required.

In fact, the system's average rating on customer review website Trustpilot is just one star out of five, which is the lowest possible score.

Nevertheless, the system's new problems with not being able to work with foreign companies are reportedly due to specifications, and SNCF says it is upgrading its reservation technology.

It's unclear how long the upgrade will take.

Alternative booking platforms for digital tickets remain available, including Trainline, Rail Europe and Kombo.

Passengers can also book outbound travel directly with foreign airlines (Renfe, CFF, SNCB, etc.).

'Black Day' occurs on May 21st due to railway strike in Paris

On Tuesday, May 21st, a major strike by two trade unions will affect rail transport in the Paris suburbs.

The RER transport network will be significantly affected by the strike planned by the SadRail and CGT-Keminots trade unions, which are calling for a “black day” for the transport system.

The union wants to pressure operator Transilian SNCF Voyagers to pay higher bonuses for increased workload during the Paris Olympics.

Transilien SNCF Voyageurs is expected to announce on Sunday (May 19) which routes will be affected by the move.

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