Arsonists shut down Paris’ Gare de l’Est station

One of the biggest mainline railway stations in France was put out of action by suspected arsonists who destroyed 48 power cables on Tuesday. The alarm was first raised

at the Gare de l’Est (North Station) in Paris shortly before 8.30 on Tuesday morning when a fire was detected. A spokesman for SNCF, France’s rail officer, said: ‘”ccording

to early findings, we can say this was a deliberate blaze. Some 48 electric cables were badly damaged, leading to the shutdown of the station.’ It was expected to be closed

for most of the morning, causing chaos for thousands of rail passengers. The spokesman said a full criminal enquiry had been launched, with judicial police gathering

evidence. The station, which is next door to the Paris-London Eurostar hub, is used for journeys across Europe, as well as by local commuters. More than 40 million

people a year use Gare de l’Est, according to SNCF figures. The devasting arson comes at a time of heightened industrial tension in France, as millions oppose government

plans to reform pensions. Beyond increasing the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030, President Emmanuel Macron’s government wants to get rid of so-called ‘special’

retirement regimes. These allow privileged groups, including some rail workers at the government-owned SNCF, to retire in their 50s on generous packages. Register now

for one of the Evening Standard’s newsletters. From a daily news briefing to Homes & Property insights, plus lifestyle, going out, offers and more. For the best stories in

your inbox, click here.