Vandals hit French train lines as negotiations with striking workers begin

Coordinated acts of sabotage struck France's high-speed trains, causing further delays to services already widely disrupted by strikes, just as long-awaited talks got started Wednesday. The majority of train drivers, however, were still striking, meaning a ninth day of hardship for commuters Thursday. There were slight improvements to the Paris subway system, but not enough to avoid long delays. The national SNCF rail authority stopped short of blaming strikers for overnight vandalism, which it said included the burning of electric cables and damage to signaling systems. Labor unions quickly denied any connection. SNCF official Mireille Faugere said electric cables running beneath tracks had been set afire and then reburied, making it harder to find and fix trouble spots. Vandals also stuck burning rags into railway signal boxes, she said.