18 March: Nationwide transport strike affects Milan.
Milan will risk paralysis on Friday 18 March as a nationwide strike by transport workers – hitting buses, trams, metro and both local and long-distance trains – has been confirmed, in some cases starting on Thursday evening.
In Milan, ATM buses and trams will be at a stillstand on Friday from 08.45 to 15.00 and from 18.00 until the end of the evening shift, while the underground metro lines will operate normally until 18.00, and then stop for the rest of the day.
Trenord Lombardy regional services centring on Milan, heavily used by commuters, will stop from 21.00 on Thursday to the same hour on Friday evening. Malpensa airport trains will also stop running, although there will be substitute (but slower) coach runs. These conditions also apply to the Autoguidovia local lines in nearby cities like Monza.
Only a few trains will be guaranteed which start outside the strike period. The Trenord website carries details (in Italian) of these exceptions.
The only breathing space will be the legally required “commuter hours”, mornings from 06.00 to 09.00 and evenings from 18.00 to 21.00.
Both Trenitalia and Italo trains out of Milan and across the nation will adhere to the 24-hour protest starting on Thursday evening at 21.00. Travellers heading for other cities around the country will need to check the hours of the local protest at their destination, which will vary from town to town, for their onward travel.
Transport workers are protesting the conditions of their collective labour contract which, they point out, has not been renewed for several years now and is no longer in step with the economy.
Fortunately for travellers, a nationwide strike also planned for Friday by regular taxi drivers, protesting the “unfair competition” from Uber, was postponed to an undecided future date after the government started negotiations with a union delegation.
In theory the prefecture could step in at the last moment and order local striking staff back to work. This however normally happens only when a major event is endangered, as took place twice in Milan province during last year’s Expo Milan 2015. There seems to be little reason for such an injunction in Milan although in Rome the prefect has ordered that strike action by local transport workers can only take place between 8.30 and 12.30.
Anybody obliged to use public transport on Friday would do well to check the media on Thursday evening in the hope of a last-minute reprieve.