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Germany: Travel chaos as unions ground all transport


Airports, ports, trains, buses and subways are all being hit by the walkouts.

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Germany awoke to widespread travel chaos on Monday, after two of the country’s biggest transport unions called a nationwide strike. It is the biggest strike the country has seen in 30 years.

The Verdi service workers’ union and the EVG union, which represents many rail workers, announced the walkout.

It is rare for unions to join forces like this in Germany. The mass strike follows a series of failed talks with employers in recent weeks.

“We think there will be extensive participation in the strike,” Verdi chief Frank Werneke told a press conference.

This isn’t the only strike planned in Europe – for details on other countries, read this article.

When is the strike in Germany?

Officially, Germany’s strike started at midnight in the early hours of Monday 27 March and is set to last all day Monday.

However, some airports cancelled flights scheduled to arrive or depart on Sunday.

The effects are likely to last into Tuesday, with some operators already cancelling services on that day too.

Which airports and train stations will be affected by the German strike?

The strike is nationwide and the unions involved represent the majority of the transport workforce. Verdi represents more than 2.5 million public sector employees, while EVG represents around 230,000 workers on the railways and at bus companies.

Flights have been suspended at Munich and Frankfurt, two of Germany’s largest airports, as well as at Bremen, Hamburg and Stuttgart airports. Rail operator Deutsche Bahn has cancelled its long-distance train services.

Below are the details of the operators who have already announced disruption. This article will be updated if more announcements are made.

How will trains be affected in Germany?

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn announced on Thursday that no long distance trains will run on Monday, with “numerous trains” also being cancelled on Tuesday. They have urged passengers due to travel on Monday to postpone their trip to the next day if possible.

In a statement they said, “This will affect all German rail operations, as employees from all areas of Deutsche Bahn and other rail companies have been called on to walk out…the long-distance traffic of Deutsche Bahn is therefore completely discontinued.”

“According to statements by the union, the first effects of employees striking are possible as early as Sunday evening. Also on Tuesday numerous trains will be canceled due to the after-effects of the strike,” it added.

DB has announced that most regional trains will also be offline for the day.

On top of that, some trains could be cancelled Tuesday due to knock-on effects.

Workers with Transdev, AKN, Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen, erixx, vlexx, eurobahn, and the Länderbahn are also affected.

That means that in addition to Deutsche Bahn, which runs services like the commuter S-Bahn and regional trains in German cities, local transport will be disrupted in seven of Germany’s sixteen federal states. These include some of the country’s most populous states: Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saxony.

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Swiss rail operator SBB says that it will provide replacement trains for cross-border trains between Switzerland and Germany on the Swiss section of the route, but the number of seats on these trains may be reduced. 

The company strongly discourages travelling on 27 March and warns its online timetables may not reflect disruption due to the strike.

Will flights be cancelled in Germany?

Germany’s busiest airport, Frankfurt Airport, said it is canceling all flights on Monday.

“All tasks that enable full flight operations are suspended due to the strike,” the airport’s operating company Fraport announced.

Munich Airport, the country’s second-busiest hub, has announced that there will be no passenger flights at all on Sunday and Monday.

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Bremen, Dortmund, Hamburg and Stuttgart airports have also cancelled all flights – both taking off and landing – with more airports likely to follow.

Düsseldorf Airport has warned passengers to expect serious disruptions into Tuesday morning, with almost all flights cancelled on Monday morning. The airport has advised passengers to keep hand luggage to a minimum to help ease security delays in the unlikely event their flight is still running.

Massive disruptions are also expected at Cologne/Bonn Airport. At Leipzig and Dresden airports, all domestic German flights have been cancelled.

While Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport is not expecting cancellations, passengers should prepare for longer waiting times as security checkpoint staff are on strike. Passenger flights at Nuremberg Airport have been cancelled.

Travellers are advised to contact their airline directly to find out if their flight is operating.

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Why are transport workers walking out in Germany?

Like in many other countries, Germans are struggling with surging inflation after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent food and energy costs soaring.

Verdi is engaged in a series of pay negotiations, is seeking a 10.5 per cent pay raise. Employers have offered a total of 5 per cent in two stages plus one-time payments of €2,500.

EVG is seeking a raise of 12 per cent. Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s main railway operator, has also offered a two-stage raise totalling 5 per cent plus one-time payments.

Germany’s annual inflation rate in February was 8.7 per cent.



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