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Strike cripples German railways

BERLIN, Feb 22, 2011 – Rail transport throughout Germany was severely disrupted Tuesday after a two-hour strike by train drivers that also hit suburban travellers in major cities, including the capital Berlin.

Drivers at state-run rail firm Deutsche Bahn, as well as at six private companies, walked off the job between 6:00am and 8:00am local time (0500 GMT to 0700 GMT) but the disruption was expected to be felt throughout the day.

"Even after the warning strike ends, there will be delays into the evening, as it will take several hours to get the affected trains back to their correct positions," said Deutsche Bahn in a statement.

The GdL union, which says it represents 75 percent of Germany\’s 26,000 train drivers, is pushing for a salary increase for Deutsche Bahn employees and for pay practices at the former monopoly to be brought into line with competitors.

The union will ballot members on an unlimited strike if their demands are not met. In 2007, GdL brought the country to a standstill with a series of strikes, at the time only at Deutsche Bahn.

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