German Rail Strikes Cause Widespread Delays
Long-distance rail travel has come to a halt across Germany, with regional trains also heavily affected, especially in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and the southwestern cities of Karlsruhe and Mannheim. There are also cancelations in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania, Hamburg and Lower Saxony, reported DW.
In the capital Berlin, no city trains (S-Bahn) are expected to run. In Bavaria, there will be hardly any trains.
Workers have walked off the job after pay talks between the country's main railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the EVG rail trade union broke down without agreement.
The so-called warning comes just a day after DB increased the price of rail tickets by an average of 1.9 percent.
What travelers need to know:
- The strikes started on Monday morning at 5 a.m. CET and are set to end around 9 a.m., a union spokesperson said. This will most likely mean headaches for commuters heading to work on Monday.
- Long-distance trains as well as regional and city (S-Bahn) trains will be affected.
- DB has advised travelers to delay their travel plans until after the strike ends. The rail company has adjusted Monday's tickets to be valid throughout the week to Sunday.
- Further strikes threatened: Although no additional rail strikes have been announced yet, EVG warned that further warning strikes can be expected during the pre-Christmas rush. A separate union, the Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL), is expected to continue its parallel talks with DB on Tuesday, but warned that its 36,000 members could also take action if wage negotiations talks fail.
Dispute over pay: EVG, which represents some 160,000 rail workers, blamed DB bosses for the breakdown of talks early on Saturday morning in Hamburg, insisting the new pay scale offered by the rail firm was too low. The rail firm, meanwhile, called the walkout a "totally unnecessary escalation."
DB says it offered staff a total pay increase of 5.1 percent in two increments and a one-time payment of €500 ($569). EVG said it was holding out for an extra percentage point of salary hike, and union officials would only return to negotiations once DB makes clear it is willing to increase its offer.
Busiest time of year: Monday's strike is likely to cause widespread disapproval among rail passengers, who regularly complain about cancellations and trains being late, and endure some of the highest rail ticket prices in Europe.
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