Train Drivers' Union GDL goes on strike

The train drivers' union GDL has decided to go on strike at Deutsche Bahn. In the union's ballot, 95 per cent of the participating members voted in favour of industrial action.

Rail travellers should expect delays and train cancellations during the holiday season. The train drivers' union GDL will start its strike on the evening of Tuesday 10th with freight traffic at DB Cargo, said GDL leader Claus Weselsky. This will be followed by passenger traffic from Wednesday. The strike will end on 13 August 2021 at 02:00.

In response to the strike announcement for Wednesday and Thursday, the Deutsche Bahn has cancelled 75 per cent of its long-distance trains. The company said it did not expect largely disruption-free traffic again until Friday. According to the railway company, priority will be given to connections that are extensively used, such as between Berlin and the Rhine-Ruhr region, between Hamburg and Frankfurt, as well as connections to important stations and airports. The aim will be to offer a two-hourly service on the main lines, using particularly long trains. The replacement timetable should be available from 3 p.m. August 10th 2021 on the timetable information on the Deutsche Bahn website and in the DB Navigator app.

On Wednesday and Thursday, however, only about every fourth scheduled long-distance Deutsche Bahn train is expected to roll. Regarding regional transport, the very limited offer will vary greatly from region to region, the company announced in Berlin.

Weselsky blamed the management of Deutsche Bahn for the escalation in the middle of the holiday season. The union was aware of its responsibility. However, there was "no favourable time" for a strike, said Weselsky.

Among other things, the GDL demands wage increases comparable to the public sector of about 3.2 per cent as well as a significant Corona bonus in the current year.

Because of the pandemic, however, the Deutsche Bahn want to follow the "emergency wage agreement" of the airports, which provides for a similar increase of 3.2 per cent over a longer period and at a later time in stages - with a contract duration of 40 months. In addition, there would be benefits for old-age provision and the exclusion of dismissals for operational reasons.

Deutsche Bahn sharply criticised the GDL's announcement and spoke of an "unnecessary escalation on the backs of rail customers".

In which cases is compensation available?

According to Deutsche Bahn, it's not guaranteed that all passengers will reach their destination on schedule with the help of the replacement timetable. Those who can postpone their journey are asked to do so. The railway company wants to be accommodating towards passengers and states that tickets purchased for the strike period can be used or refunded up to and including 20th of August if the train connection is cancelled.

The right to compensation in the event of a strike is also regulated by the EU Passenger Regulation. If you arrive at your destination at least one hour late, you will be refunded 25 per cent of the fare; if you arrive two hours late, you will be refunded 50 per cent of the fare. Passengers can choose between a voucher or an actual payment.

If a delay of 20 minutes is expected at the destination station, passengers can take another train. Higher-quality trains can also be used, provided they are not subject to reservation. The surcharge paid will be refunded. Seat reservations are no longer valid on a replacement train. The additional cost of the reserved seat can be refunded.

Time tickets are reimbursed at a flat rate for delays of at least one hour. Long-distance travellers receive five euros for second-class tickets and 7.50 euros for first-class tickets.

The situation is different in local transport, where amounts of less than four euros are not paid out. Since there is only a flat rate of 1.50 euros or 2.25 euros for a delay of at least one hour, passengers usually have to collect delays and submit them together.

Am I allowed to cancel a journey?

If it is foreseeable that the train will arrive at its destination at least one hour later than planned, passengers are allowed to cancel the journey. They are then entitled to a full refund of the fare. This also applies to cancelled trains or missed connections. If you break off the journey en route, you can have the unused part refunded. If you return to the station of departure, you will be reimbursed the full price.

How can I prove my claim?

If you are affected by delays, you should always have them confirmed by railway employees, according to the recommendation of the railway. Consumer advocates also advise taking photos of display boards showing the delayed or cancelled trains, or screenshots from the app or website. The journey can then be claimed with this evidence, the ticket and the completed passenger rights form.

The form is available directly on the delayed train, at the railway travel centre or online for download. It must be sent to the railway together with the other documents or handed in at the travel centre. Compensation for tickets purchased online or on mobile devices can be applied for in the Bahn app or on bahn.de. As a general rule, refunds must be claimed within one year of the expiry date of the ticket. The first day of this period of validity is indicated on the ticket.

When am I entitled to board and lodging?

If you are stranded at a station in the evening and cannot get on, you are entitled to replacement transport or, in the most extreme case, accommodation and transport there. If the delay exceeds 60 minutes, the railway companies are obliged to provide free refreshments and meals.

What am I entitled to if I miss a flight?

In principle, the railway is only obliged to pay compensation for train tickets. Travellers must pay for rebooking or even reimbursement of a missed flight themselves. However, if the train journey is part of a package tour, you may be able to claim back any additional costs incurred from the tour operator.


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