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Trains in Stuttgart: Stations largely empty

Photo: Bernd Weißbrod / dpa

The warning strike by the German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL), which began late on Thursday evening, is causing massive disruptions to train traffic. Deutsche Bahn advised travelers to cancel or postpone trips.

Until the end of the day, there will be delays and train cancellations nationwide, Deutsche Bahn announced. Accordingly, only an emergency timetable with a greatly reduced range of journeys will be offered. In all long-distance and regional traffic, problems must be expected due to the GDL strike, the railway announced in the morning. "The emergency timetable for DB passenger services has started." According to the study, only about one in five long-distance trains was to run, and Deutsche Bahn expected a cancellation rate of 80 percent.

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"The warning strike is off to a very good start," said a spokesman for the German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL). In regional transport, the impact varies greatly from region to region. "Many passengers have brought their journey forward or have been able to postpone it to a later date," the railway said. The stations are largely empty in the early morning. "This strike was announced at extremely short notice, and yet we were able to set up our emergency timetable in time."

Backlog of hundreds of trains

Especially in Bavaria, where the railways continue to have to deal with the effects of the snow chaos, hardly any trains are likely to be on the road. In other regions, the offer will be larger, the railway announced.

It is the second warning strike by the train drivers' union GDL in the current round of collective bargaining at Deutsche Bahn. It is scheduled to last until Friday evening at 22 p.m. In freight transport, it had started a little earlier on Thursday. Here, Deutsche Bahn fears a backlog of around 300 freight trains. Most recently, the GDL had called for a warning strike at the railway on 15 and 16 November.

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The current warning strike is to be the last this year, the GDL has agreed to a Christmas truce until 7 January. GDL leader Claus Weselsky said that after that, the strikes could become longer and more intense. He wished that "neither for the passengers (...) nor for the freight transport customers". In mid-December, the union's ballot on a potentially indefinite strike is due to be counted.

The biggest point of contention in the wage dispute between the railways and the union is negotiations on the reduction of weekly working hours. Deutsche Bahn considers the reduction demanded by the GDL to be unfeasible, citing the lack of staff.