'No trains': Passengers in Germany hit by Deutsche Bahn's ongoing strike

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'No trains': Passengers in Germany hit by Deutsche Bahn's ongoing strike
A sign announcing the train drivers' strike in Munich in November. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lukas Barth

With many cancelled trains in Germany and no negotiations in sight, the German train union GDL's warning strike will continue until 6pm on Thursday. Will more industrial action follow?


The warning strike by the German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) hit commuters particularly hard on Thursday morning.

"In some regions, there were no trains at all due to the strike participation," Deutsche Bahn announced online.

However, the emergency timetable has started but offers only around 20 percent of the originally planned long-distance journeys. The effects on local and regional transport vary greatly depending on the state.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, individual signal boxes were not manned in the morning - meaning that the warning strike there also has an impact on other railway companies, as entire sections of track cannot be used without a dispatcher.

A spokesperson for Berlin and Brandenburg announced that replacement buses would be used on individual routes.

Many customers have changed their travel plans

According to Deutsche Bahn, many customers adjusted their travel plans in the hours following the warning strike announcement.

"Many passengers have brought forward their planned journeys or postponed them to a later date," it said on Thursday morning. Passengers had already been asked on Wednesday to avoid non-essential journeys. Anyone who still has to travel should check DB's timetables shortly before starting their journey.

Will more strikes follow?

The GDL has been on strike since Wednesday evening at 10 pm, and the strike is due to end on Thursday evening at 6 pm. This is the union's first industrial action in the still-young collective bargaining dispute; negotiations have only taken place once so far.

The second round of negotiations originally planned for Thursday and Friday has been cancelled by Deutsche Bahn.

"Either you go on strike or you negotiate. You can't do both at the same time," said DB personnel director Martin Seiler.

In the negotiations, the GDL is demanding an increase of 555 per month and an inflation compensation bonus for a period of twelve months.


The core demand is also a reduction in working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours per week without a reduction in pay.

Reduced working hours the biggest sticking point in negotiations

Deutsche Bahn called a the reduction in working hours as unrealisable and referred to the shortage of skilled workers. With fewer working hours per week, significantly more people would have to be recruited, they said in a statement.

In the first round of negotiations, DB Board Member for Human Resources Seiler offered a pay increase of eleven percent for a term of 32 months as well as the demanded inflation compensation premium.

However, the company made no offer regarding working hours.

With further negotiations currently cancelled, it remains possible that more strikes could stretch into the holiday season.


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