Across the nation up to 70 percent of the trains operated by private railway operators had been cancelled as the two-day strike began, said Claus Weselsky, head of train drivers' union GDL.
“The strike has kicked off exactly as the last one – with fantastic participation from our colleagues,” he said.
GDL announced Wednesday afternoon that strikes would begin Thursday at 2 am and run until 2 am Saturday.
Twenty major private rail operators are affected, among them Abellio, Arriva, Benex, Hessische Landesbahn and Veolia. Each is locked in stalled pay negotiations with the union. Operator Keolis will be excluded from the strike as it has continued talks with the union since Monday.
Train cancellations were reported “across the Republic,” Weselsky said, adding that with northern regions hit particularly hard, “because there is of course a high concentration of private train providers there.”
Germany's national rail operator Deutsche Bahn is not affected.
The union is demanding the same pay basic pay agreement for its drivers as that given to Deutsche Bahn drivers.
The union, which has called strikes several times in recent weeks, is demanding discuss a uniform pay scale for drivers across the whole of Germany.