Germany train strikes: DB drivers announce a week-long walkout starting on Wednesday

Germany train strikes: DB drivers announce a week-long walkout starting on Wednesday

Train drivers in Germany have announced an almost week-long strike starting on Wednesday.

It is the latest in a series of walkouts over working hours, conditions and pay. Union GDL said it has rejected a pay offer made on Friday by German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB).

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«With the third and supposedly improved offer, Deutsche Bahn has once again shown that it is undeterred in pursuing its previous course of refusal and confrontation — there is no trace of any desire to reach agreement,» the union said in a press release on early Monday morning.

Earlier this month, rail travel was brought to a ‘near standstill’ in Germany when GDL union members went on strike.

The upcoming passenger train strike will begin at 2am on 24 January and last until 6am on Monday 29 January.

Why are Germany’s rail workers striking?

The GDL union voted overwhelmingly to authorise ‘fully-fledged’ strikes at state-owned DB. 

The group staged a 24-hour ‘warning strike’ on 8 December, a common tactic in German wage negotiations, but the disagreement continues to escalate.

Following a three-day walkout earlier this month, the upcoming strike will be the longest to date in the ongoing row.

The central issue is the union’s call for shift workers’ hours to be reduced from 38 to 35 hours per week without a pay reduction, a demand at which employers so far have baulked.

GDL is seeking a raise of €555 per month for employees plus a one-time payment of up to €3,000 to counter inflation. DB said earlier this month that it made an offer that amounts to an 11 per cent raise.

It has also said shift workers can move from a 38 to a 37 hour week from 2026, or receive extra pay if they want to remain on their current hours.

Will there be more train strikes in Germany in 2024?

Unfortunately for travellers, it’s likely there will be further strikes this year as negotiations continue.

“What is coming now will be more powerful, longer and harder for customers” than the walkouts so far, GDL’s chairman said earlier this month — a threat that is now coming to fruition.

How will Germany’s rail strikes affect passengers?

During the last strike in early January, Deutsche Bahn said only around 20 per cent of its long-distance trains were running, including many regional and commuter trains in cities like Berlin.

DB said that longer trains would be used for the available journeys to accommodate as many people as possible. However, it said services were not guaranteed and asked passengers to avoid non-essential travel during the strike.

During the ‘warning strikes’ earlier in December, long-distance, regional and S-Bahn services were subject to delays and cancellations.

Other railway companies such as the Transdev Group (including Bayerische Oberlandbahn and NordWestBahn) were also affected.

As Germany’s largest employer of train drivers, DB manages not only long-distance passenger trains such as ICE, IC, EC, and Nightjet trains, but also regional trains and S-Bahn lines.

The strike will be nationwide and impacts are expected to be felt across the country. 

If you have a train ticket booked for the upcoming strike dates, you can use it at a later date. Read on for your rights as a passenger.

Where you can find information on train timetables

Customers can usually find up-to-date information about their train route via the Bahn app or the Deutsche Bahn website. It’s worth double checking these before leaving home, as additional trains may be cancelled last-minute during the strike.

You can call DB’s travel information hotline on +49 (0)30-2970.

Refunds: What are train passenger’s rights in Germany?

If your journey is affected, you have various options, according to the Deutsche Bahn website:

  • You can postpone your journey and use your ticket at a later date of your choosing — your ticket is valid for the journey to the original destination, even with a changed route alignment.
  • Seat reservations can be cancelled free of charge.
  • If your train has been cancelled, you can get a full refund with no deductions.


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