German Railways Nearly Shut Down in Three-Day Train Strikes

A nationwide train strike in Germany brought rail travel to a near standstill on January 10, and it is scheduled to last until January 12.

The Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer (gdl) train drivers’ union called the strike after a dispute with state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn over pay and workers’ hours.

Huge impact: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing train cancellations as many regional and commuter trains in cities like Berlin, Germany, are out of operation. Only around 20 percent of long-distance trains are running, Deutsche Bahn said.

The strike by the train drivers’ union gdl has had a massive impact on train services in Germany. We regret the restrictions and hope that many people who were unable to reschedule their journey will get to their destination.
—Anja Broeker, Deutsche Bahn spokeswoman

Just the beginning: The strike marks the third and largest since the union took up negotiations with Deutsche Bahn in November last year. On Wednesday, gdl chief Claus Weselsky called Deutsche Bahn’s latest offer regarding union demands on work hours a “provocation.”

“If there is nothing by Friday, we will take a break and then continue the fight,” he said. “What is coming now will be more powerful, longer and harder for customers” than the walkouts so far, he added.

Dissatisfaction: The strike comes during the weeklong tractor blockades German farmers have been setting up across city streets and highways since Monday, protesting the government’s plan to reduce diesel subsidies and tax breaks.

These strikes and protests show major dissatisfaction with the policies of the ruling coalition, which is struggling with a weak economy and dwindling popularity. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has warned that such dissatisfaction could aggravate the Germans further and cause them to seek a strong leader.

Learn more: Read A Strong German Leader Is Imminent.