Train drivers call toughest rail strike in years – economy

This concert was very bad news for travelers to Germany. When Claus Weselsky, the legal chief of the GDL train drivers’ union, appeared on cameras in Frankfurt on Tuesday, he announced the start of the toughest rail strike in years. From this Wednesday morning, many platforms will remain empty. In the midst of a wave of vacation travel and despite the freedom to travel recently regained after the severe pandemic wave, the GDL largely paralyzes rail traffic for 48 hours.

Do trains even run on strike days?

Travelers should expect that only a few of the 1,300 long-distance trains and 22,000 local trains run as planned each day. Because the GDL claims to have around 80 percent of train drivers among its members. Their strikes are therefore particularly effective. According to Deutsche Bahn, the planned emergency plan can only maintain a quarter of rail traffic. 75 percent of connections are likely to fail on Wednesday and Thursday. Trains are to run mainly on the main routes from the Ruhr area to Berlin and from Hamburg to Frankfurt. However, probably only every two hours. The railway also expects massive problems in regional traffic and S-Bahn trains.

What if a train is not running?

If a train is canceled due to the strike, or if travelers miss a connection, they can change trains at no additional cost – if one is running again. In the case of offers such as a reduced fare ticket, Deutsche Bahn cuts the rail connection. Train travelers can also change trains if they expect their train to reach its destination more than 20 minutes late. However, passengers must first pay for any surcharges for faster trains themselves, but may be refunded the money. The railway has meanwhile announced that tickets purchased for the strike period can be used or refunded until August 20 inclusive if the rail link is canceled.

What are the rights of customers in the event of a delay?

Even without a strike, the following applies: If a delay of 60 minutes or more is to be expected, customers who do not start their trip or must turn back are reimbursed. In any case, “if the trip has become unnecessary according to the initial travel plans”, specifies the railway. If you get on the train despite the strike and make the trip, the usual compensation rules apply: in the event of a 60-minute delay, 25% of the ticket price, from 120 minutes 50%.

Open detailed view

Claus Weselsky, president of the GDL train drivers’ union, announces the toughest rail strike in years.

(Photo: Arne Dedert / dpa)

How are travelers compensated?

In order to assert claims, the corresponding passenger rights form must be completed. Data subjects can obtain this form on the train, at DB Information, at DB Travel Centers or on the website of Deutsche Bahn. If the ticket was purchased through a customer account at, complaints can now also be made online and in the DB Navigator app.

How does Deutsche Bahn compensate commuters and travelers with season tickets?

From a delay of 60 minutes, passengers with a subscription receive a fixed compensation per trip. Second class subscriptions for long distance travel cost five euros and first class tickets cost 7.50 euros. Bahn-Card-100 holders receive ten euros in second class and 15 euros in first class. In local transport, compensation is low. If the delay is 60 minutes or more, there is a flat rate of 1.50 euros in the second class and 2.25 euros in the first. However, amounts of four euros or more are only paid in local transport.

Is there a right to food for those who wait?

“In the event of a delay of more than 60 minutes, the train must offer free refreshments and meals in proportion to the waiting time,” explains Beatrix Kaschel of the local transport arbitration committee in Düsseldorf. If nothing like this is offered, travelers should keep receipts for food they bought themselves, she advises.

Does the train pay for a taxi or a hotel room?

First, travelers need to know if the train offers an alternative connection. If this is the case, the railway’s offer always takes priority. So it’s important to pay attention to announcements and postings on the platform, Kaschel says. And “if you have received a voucher for the taxi, it is better to ask the driver beforehand if they will accept the voucher at no additional cost,” advises Kaschel.

If continuing the journey on the same day is not possible or unreasonable, the railway must also cover the cost of a hotel room. “The appropriate accommodation costs will then be reimbursed,” as DB puts it. As the options organized by the railways have priority, travelers must first contact the ticket office or information point or train staff on site.

What if you miss a flight because of the train strike?

Anyone who hasn’t booked a package travel or at least a Rail & Fly ticket will likely end up with the costs. Because the train only has to compensate for a canceled train ticket and not a flight. Passengers can only hope for the goodwill of the airline when changing the reservation – or in this case, take a taxi at their own expense in order to check in on time.

Is the end of the wage dispute in sight?

No. The fronts between the railways and the unions have hardened. So far, neither side has shown its willingness to give in. It is likely that the strike will unfold in waves. Strike days are also followed by non-strike phases. Insiders fear the conflict could drag on for weeks or even months.

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