Rail strike to affect millions of German commuters

15th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 November 2007, Frankfurt - The biggest strike in the history of Germany's state-owned rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, is to impact millions of commuters and travellers Thursday.

15 November 2007

Frankfurt - The biggest strike in the history of Germany's state-owned rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, is to impact millions of commuters and travellers Thursday.

"We are driving no more trains from the depots," a spokesman for GDL, the train drivers union, said in Frankfurt about the latest round in its long-running pay dispute with Deutsche Bahn.

The strike began at midday Wednesday when the drivers of freight trains walked off their jobs across Germany, but the drivers of passenger trains also ceased work at 2 am Thursday in a work stoppage that is to continue through 2 am Saturday.

Deutsche Bahn has implemented an emergency plan that is to keep some trains running. Two-thirds of long-distance trains, primarily express inter-city passenger trains, would be in service, it said, but many other inter-city trains would not run.

Up to 50 per cent of local traffic was expected to be in service, but the strike would impact Germany's regions differently, it said. Travellers in western Germany would see better service than in the East, it said.

In large cities, problems were also expected in suburban train service, but Deutsche Bahn was putting about 500 buses into service to lessen the strike's effects.

The work stoppage was the sixth by GDL in five months as it seeks an independent wage contract and a pay hike of up to 31 per cent for the 15,500 of the 19,600 Deutsche Bahn drivers it represents.

The current strike was its first to target both freight and passenger traffic since the dispute began in March.

GDL deputy chairman Claus Weselsky said that in the first eight hours of the strike on freight traffic, more than 550 drivers had walked off the job.

A majority of the freight trains in eastern Germany remained at their stations, but traffic in the West was also deeply impacted, the union said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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