Germany's national rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) said on Wednesday that the latest strike by the German train drivers' union GDL would halt two-thirds of long distance trains across the country. Around 60 percent of regional trains would still be running, depending on the region. DB said the number of trains in the eastern part of Germany has been especially reduced by the strike.
The strike could affect up to 6 million rail passengers, with many canceled trains being replaced by buses.
As rail passengers dealt with the strike, DB and GDL representatives held meetings Wednesday afternoon arbitrated by labor attorney Klaus Bepler to negotiate an end to the impasse.
Passenger trains stopped service at 2 a.m. (0000 UTC) Wednesday morning. Freight service had already screeched to a halt at 3 p.m. (1300 UTC) Tuesday afternoon. The GDL has not announced when the strike will end, only that they would give 48 hours notice to passengers.
GDL Chairman Claus Weselsky said in an interview with German news channel "n-tv, " that the discussions were currently "confidential." The two sides are seeking a deal to enter formal arbitration, but Weselsky said his union would only agree to this step if its members "constitutionally guaranteed rights" were safeguarded.
The German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that Chancellor Angela Merkel had already stated many times that strikes were a "vested fundamental right."
The GDL, which represents around 20, 000 drivers, is demanding a 5-percent wage increase, a two-hour shorter working week and greater negotiating rights for the union that would extend to representing other train personnel such as conductors and restaurant staff.
GDL Chairman Claus Weselsky
Weselsky has said the open-ended strike would probably last longer than the previous six-day walkout earlier this month, which would make it the longest in Deutsche Bahn's 21 years of operation.
Trouble ahead for long holiday weekend
Spokesman Seibert also said that both parties needed to "be aware of their special responsibility" with such an extensive strike affecting a key service like rail travel in light of the upcoming Pentecost holiday weekend.
DB said it was working on an alternative schedule to accommodate passengers during the bank-holiday weekend with around one third of long-distance trains running.
DB has been looking for replacement drivers to keep trains running over the Pentecost weekend.
Alternative transport takes advantage
Axel Stocker, chief of long-distance bus service Evobus told German broadcaster WDR Wednesday that the train strikes have proven that the long distance busses were "a reliable alternative [to rail travel]." According to WDR, the current strike has driven 500, 000 train customers to take the bus.
"We are in tough competition for travelers with busses and rental car companies, " said a DB industrial council representative warning about damages to the reputation of rail travel in Germany.
DB supervisory board member Ulrich Homburg said that this ninth strike in 10 months had shaken "confidence in the entire rail system."
About 5.5 million people travel by train every day in Germany and 620, 000 tons of freight is transported by rail.otc stock exchange new york stock exchange indices what time does stock exchange close today toronto stock exchange stock quote new york stock exchange app stock exchange ticker hk stock exchange swedish stock exchange sweden stock exchange national stock exchange live quotes dubai stock exchange stock exchange estate uk stock exchange where is the world's oldest stock exchange? stock exchange game stockholms stock exchange chitagong stock exchange dax stock exchange b s e stock exchange wise london stock exchange stuttgart stock exchange italian stock exchange tehran stock exchange mumbai stock exchange shareholder a sold 500 shares of abc stock on the new york stock exchange. this transaction: new york stock exchange building ny stock exchange trading floor tokyo stock exchange indices stock exchange floor nepal stock exchange live www new york stock exchange today new york stock exchange vs nasdaq kraken exchange stock price abx toronto stock exchange best stock exchange los angeles stock exchange santiago stock exchange vienna stock exchange list of new york stock exchange companies what is a stock exchange everfi is the stock exchange open today lse stock exchange toronto stock exchange hours if a company's common stock is traded on an exchange, the company is said to be chili stock exchange alibaba share price hong kong stock exchange russian stock exchange what time does new york stock exchange open what does the new york stock exchange do toronto stock exchange toronto refinitiv london stock exchange toronto stock exchange stock prices what time does ny stock exchange close malasia stock exchange what time does stock exchange open jarkarta stock exchange what time does the new york stock exchange close today pacific stock exchange bmv stock exchange jarkata stock exchange mexico stock exchange stock exchange opening times kuwait stock exchange australian stock exchange market first stock exchange stock market exchange crossword clue taiwan stock exchange index diageo london stock exchange