German rail travellers on Saturday faced delays and disruptions on one of autumn’s busiest travel weekends as the train drivers’ union began one of its largest strikes in recent years.

Only about a third of traffic on major lines was running, the national rail operator Deutsche Bahn said in a statement, adding that service would be assured on around 30 per cent of regional and city lines.
Demand for wage hike
Launching its biggest strike since 2008, the GDL union called on its members to walk out from 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Friday on freight services and from 2:00 am (0000 GMT) on Saturday on long-distance and regional passenger services.
The stoppages — on traditionally one of the busiest weekends in the autumn because of a school holiday — are due to last until 4:00 am (0200 GMT) on Monday.
The union accused national rail operator Deutsche Bahn of stone-walling in talks over its demands for a five-per cent wage hike and a shorter working week of 37 hours.
Deutsche Bahn slammed the new industrial action — the fifth in recent weeks — as excessive, accusing GDL chief Claus Weselsky of putting his own “delusions of omnipotence” and “thirst for power” before the interests of the train drivers and passengers.
The magnitude of the industrial action was surprising in a country where warning strikes rarely last more than a day. The last time Deutsche Bahn was hit by an industrial dispute as serious as this was in 2007-2008. — AFP