Germany's rail network was brought to a halt as workers across the country took strike action for the second time in recent weeks demanding higher pay to offset inflation
Germany's rail network came to an almost complete halt on Friday morning and workers across the country went on strike to demand higher wages to help offset inflation.
Achim Stauss, a spokesman for national rail operator Deutsche Bahn, told reporters at Berlin's deserted central station that there were "almost no trains" running due to staff shortages.
"The responsibility for this lies with the EVG," claimed Stauss. "This strike is useless and unnecessary because on the one hand, we have already scheduled a negotiation date for next Tuesday, and on the other hand, we have agreed to make an offer."
More than 15,000 employees from 50 companies joined the strike, according to the EVG transport union, which represents some 230,000 workers.
The union is demanding a 12% pay rise for workers over the next year with a minimum increase of 650 euros a month.
In a statement, the EVG said: "Employers think they can ignore the demands of their employees and want to dictate collective bargaining from above. This is unacceptable," it said.
Travel disruption was likely to continue after the end of the strike, Deutsche Bahn warned, adding that the situation at stations remained "quiet".
Urban and regional rail services were to resume after the end of the strike in the morning, while long-distance trains were due to start running again from 13:00 local time.
Germany's rail system was largely brought to a halt in a major strike at the end of March led by EVG and the public sector union Verdi.
Verdi, which represents around 2.5 million employees, has also been engaged for several weeks in tense negotiations with national and local authorities. The talks are due to resume on Saturday.
Over the last few months, workers in different sectors including healthcare, childcare and transport have gone on strike to demand better conditions.
Inflation in Germany stood at 7.4% in March, remaining very elevated despite having fallen from a peak of 8.8% in October.