Germany: nationwide strike brings rail to a standstill
The warning nationwide railway strike taken by union EVG on Monday, 27 March, will have a considerable impact on rail freight. Depending on the company, services are either fully or partially cancelled, while more delays are expected during the week.
RailFreight.com communicated with several companies active in the rail freight business to assess the impact of EVG’s warning strike. For the record, the strike will last for 24 hours and works as a warning for the possible backlash that failed collective wage bargaining negotiations between EVG and DB could have.
DB and Kombiverkehr cancel all trains
DB is probably the most affected company by the warning strike. All DB’s rail services are currently suspended. At the same time, the company has communicated that it will do its utmost to “ensure the supply of key industries like power plants, seaports and refineries” via rail.
On the other hand, Kombiverkehr is one of the companies which decided to suspend its operations on 27 March. “After intensive deliberations, we have decided not to run all our national and international direct trains to restart our regular train programme in an orderly start-up process after the strike day”, said a company spokesperson. Additionally, he mentioned that the company cancelled some weekend trips as well due to the roundtrip services they provide.
RCG and METRANS expect limited traffic
From its side, METRANS spoke of a completely impaired railway infrastructure in Germany. Apart from limited train traffic, both domestic and cross-border, METRANS expects further train delays to persist in the course of the week.
Rail Cargo Group mentioned that it had to cancel 50 trains to and from Germany due to the country’s main lines and corridors being closed. The company did not explicitly say whether those 50 cancelled trains correspond to most or part of its traffic.
CargoBeamer and duisport unaffected
Nevertheless, there are still companies unaffected by the strike. For instance, CargoBeamer explained to RailFreight.com that it doesn’t expect any cancellations resolution directly from the strike. “Short-term cancellations due to unforeseen developments cannot be ruled out entirely”, a company spokesperson added.
The same applies to duisport. “duisport will not be affected by direct strike action next Monday as other collective agreements apply to our employees. However, indirect effects in the form of restrictions and delays in handling rail freight shipments are to be expected. It is not yet possible to say exactly how severe these delays will be”, commented the company’s spokesperson.
Next round of negotiations
The next negotiation round between EVG and DB is scheduled for 24 and 25 April. Negotiations between EVG and German rail employers, including DB, started on 28 February. DB’s latest offer included a 3 per cent increase in December 2023 and an additional 2 per cent increase in August 2024. Kristian Loroch, chief negotiator at EVG, highlighted that the raise proposed by DB would therefore equal a five per cent rise over 27 months, calling it a “sham offer”. Moreover, DB offered to raise the minimum hourly wage paid to rail workers to 13 euros. Currently, the minimum hourly rate is well below 12 euros per hour, as EVG claimed.
The German union asks for a 650 euros salary raise for all employees or a 12 per cent increase over the next 12 months. After initial talks, DB decided to discard this demand and did not provide a counteroffer, saying that “the demanded minimum of 650 euros would apply to 90 per cent of the DB workforce”. “Depending on the salary, this would correspond to a wage increase of well over 30 per cent”, said DB’s HR director Martin Seiler at the beginning of March.