Strike snarls German rail

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Long distance trains across Germany and suburban rail in Berlin were at a standstill Thursday as train drivers went on strike over pay and conditions, national operator Deutsche Bahn said.

The main transport hubs of Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne and Munich were especially affected, also causing disruption to international rail traffic.

Since the beginning of the strike at 4:00 am (0300 GMT), a total of 240 trains had been cancelled, Deutsche Bahn said in a statement. The action was due to end at 10:00 am (0900 GMT).

In Berlin and the surrounding area of Brandenburg, only 10 percent of trains were running, causing pressure and overcrowding on the city's other transport options.

Freight train drivers in Europe's top economy also walked off the job late Wednesday.

The GdL union, which represents around 75 percent of Germany's 26,000 train drivers, is pushing for a salary increase for Deutsche Bahn employees and for uniform pay practices at the former monopoly and at competitors.

The strike is running "as expected, in the whole of Germany," said a GdL spokesman.

Ulrich Weber, Deutsche Bahn's personnel manager, called on the union "to return to the negotiating table."

© 2011 AFP

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