Unions plan three months of industrial action in bid to force a government rethink on reforms.
It is fair to say France is more than used to its share of strikes.
But on midnight on Monday, what has been dubbed the battle of the railway lines begins.
One employee in four is expected to walk out and three out of four train drivers will also take action.
That means France's high speed services will be almost at a standstill.
What's more, the 48-hour stoppage is set to be repeated every three to five days over three months.
The move is against cost-saving reforms touted by Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne, who wants to reduce the SNCF's €65 billion euro debt and privatise parts of the industry.
1995 was the last time a French government tried to restructure SNCF, but it abandoned its efforts after transport in France was paralysed for four weeks
But this time, the unions are less powerful, less united and seem to have less support.