Sunday, October 19, 2014

This Rail Strike

Mid-day Sunday now, and the strike continues on.  Based on commentary late last night by the public.....there's limited support for the striking railway union guys.  A lot of people went and made alternate plans, and disrupted their weekend plans around Germany.

From what the German press reports today....roughly seventy percent of the railway runs have been cancelled so far.  So trips are still operating, although at a minimum rate.

ARD TV reports that the final deal offered on Friday was a five-percent pay-raise in 2016, with a one-time 325 Euro bonus for all union members.  The idea of the two less hours a week of work?  No. The idea of letting conductors, security folks, and railway support staff falling into this union?  No.

Monday travel appears to be back on schedule, at least right now.  There is some hint from the union that if negotiations don't go well this upcoming week.....they might return for another one-to-two-day strike for the next weekend.

Bus service carrying the load?  The ARD folks had a brief discussion with bus leadership last night.  They were "thrilled" (my word, not theirs)....over the circumstance, and doing well in terms of passengers and profits.  It would appear.....every single bus is full and they might even be running additional buses to meet demand.

Where does this all lead?  Let's say that the union gets everything they want.  Somewhere by 2016....the necessary profits of the Bahn have to be cut in someway, and cost will be pushed upward.  This means ticket prices rise again.

Presently, a flight between Berlin and Frankfurt will cost you around 110 Euro in the off-season (round-trip).  If you use the current special rate, the one-way deal is 29 Euro, with just over four hours of travel time on the rail.  The Bahn folks have been running special rates for Frankfurt to Amsterdam of around 39 Euro for a one-way ticket. At some point though....the special rate deal has to end, and go back to double or triple that rate.

The bus deal?  Presently, you can make the Frankfurt to Berlin trip, one-way, for about fifteen Euro (that's the special rate), and regular rates might run to twenty-five Euro.

People are paying attention to this and asking more questions about where the buses leave from and the travel time.  If there was another rate hike for passengers in might draw some curious advertising from the bus companies, and finally start to take away passenger runs.  Currently, there's two trains leaving Frankfurt every hour, to Berlin, during the prime of the day, and maybe one per hour in the non-prime period of the day.

The rate of a regular ticket if the special wasn't used?  Roughly a hundred Euro. The special deal was supposed to run for the summer months, and apparently still continues now into October.

In the long-run, this strike business is making people consider the options, and with the right advertising and TV-directed focus.....I could see the Bahn losing a quarter of it's long-distance passengers.....mostly over frustrations.  You generally went by rail because if offered some comfort and generally got to the destination on time.  If you prioritized your requirements.....buses might come out better.

My advice?  It took decades to overcome the state law forbidding bus travel around Germany for long-distances.  I might review my options, and use them a bit more often.

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