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Tourists, residents in Italy stranded in heat due to major train strike affecting the country

At the height of Italy's tourist season, train services were canceled due to a major strike across the country. Locals and tourists were left stranded in the heat Thursday.

Commuters and tourists alike were stranded by a major train strike across Italy on a sweltering Thursday, with cancellations affecting even high-speed lines that are usually guaranteed during Italy's frequent work stoppages.

Transport Minister Matteo Salvini signed a decree ordering the two-day strike be cut in half, but even that truncated stoppage forced the cancellation of service up and down the peninsula on a weekday, at the height of Italy's booming high tourist season.

At Milan’s main rail station, for example, eight of 20 scheduled Trenitalia trains scheduled between 10:30-11:30 a.m. were canceled.

HEAT WAVE SWEEPS ACROSS SOUTHERN EUROPE AS SPAIN FACES SWELTERING TEMPERATURE

State-run Trenitalia warned of the likelihood of a "significant impact" on service that would involve the partial or total cancellation of service on the high-speed Frecce lines, Intercity and regional trains, and cause delays after the official end of the strike. Private Italo listed the trains that it guaranteed would be operational on its website.

Roberta Riccitiello was in Rome for work and was hoping for guaranteed high-speed train service back to her home in Naples.

"But actually we arrived this morning and they canceled all the trains," Riccitiello said at a sweltering Termini train station, as Rome temperatures outside hit 93 degrees F. She said she was considering a slower regional train service instead of the high-speed line she had originally booked, even though it would add nearly 3.5 hours onto the trip.

"Five hours to get home. I’m not on vacation, I was at work and I have to go back to work," she said.

Italy’s main unions called for the strike of Trenitalia and Italo workers, complaining about staffing shortages and excessive overtime, minimum salaries and other work conditions.

HEAT WAVE EXPANDS OVER SOUTHERN US AS SEVERE STORMS SPREAD THROUGH MULTIPLE REGIONS

"In general there’s a need to restart a serious and constructive confrontation within the rail transport sector to concretely improve work conditions and make them responsive to the needs of all the personnel," said a statement from the UIL union.

Salvini said in a video statement early Thursday that he had just signed a decree cutting the strike in half, saying he took action "because leaving a million Italians — commuters and workers — stranded on a Thursday in July with temperatures of up to 35 degrees was unthinkable."

He promised to facilitate a meeting between companies and unions "to give satisfaction to Italian railway workers, without, however, stranding hundreds of thousands of Italians who bear no blame."

Philip Rially, visiting Rome from Scotland, was sanguine about the strike, saying work stoppages were "part of life" and would eventually end.

"And so, like all these other people from all over, we just have to wait patiently," he said.

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