Deutsche Bahn said at least half of normal trains should run on Monday even if the GDL union carried out its threat to strike. Bahn director of passenger transport Karl-Friedrich said the union's plan to strike was "unbelievable" and the company regretted not having received signals from GDL: "We are making every effort to avoid this strike."
The situation appeared critical in eastern Germany and in Berlin, where just one suburban train per hour was expected to run.
Deutsche Bahn had also made contingency plans for freight transportation that is crucial for German industry, it said. Operation of certain lines between northeastern Leipzig and southern Munich would be transferred to partner companies, as would service to chemical plants.
Deutsche Bahn and GDL had faced off in late 2007 and drivers had staged several strikes before the two sides announced in late January that they had reached an agreement that included an 11 percent pay rise for the drivers. But the accord was not finalised, with GDL saying that the railway refused to accord it a special statute independent of other trade unions.