Gerard said that in 2016, there was a renewed emphasis on dress code, especially for those assigned to work at the Grotto or on Ceremonies (which includes processions). This will continue in 2017.
As the overall number of pilgrims travelling to Lourdes declines, this has seen an impact on the level of pilgrimage train activity at Lourdes. This decline has also been impacted by the decision of SNCF to retire its ambulance cars as they are not longer meet the safety standards for travel on the railway. In 2016, the number of trains was reduced and advance plans for 2017 confirm that this will continue. Many of the trains are being replaced by coach and also, in some cases, by aircraft. In both cases, the smaller number of both aircraft and coach means that the pilgrimage is able to adjust its transport needs more easily, whereas with a train, this is not as easy.
On a related point, and because of the changing travel profile to and from Lourdes, there can frequently be days when there is no work for those on assigned to the Airport or Station and so, in 2016, when signing in, Hospitaliers were assigned to a second or alternative service.
Numbers of Hospitaliers / Stagieres
The number of Hospitaliers and Stagieres can be very low at some times away from July and August and this can be a challenge when providing people for service. A request has been made that people might consider going to Lourdes earlier or later in the season when these shortages most frequently occur.