How will the strikes in Germany affect rail services in Switzerland?

How will the strikes in Germany affect rail services in Switzerland?

From 10pm on November 15, long-distance trains run by Deutsche Bahn and S-Bahns in some German cities will be brought to a standstill thanks to a 20-hour strike by the Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL). Here’s how the strike will affect public transport in Switzerland and what the advice is for anyone hoping to travel to or from our northern neighbour.

Deutsche Bahn drivers walk out over pay

From 10pm on Wednesday to 6pm on Thursday, members of the GDL will be walking out in protest of salaries and working conditions. The union is demanding a general pay increase of 555 euros a month and a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week while maintaining the same level of pay. 

Union leader Claus Weselsky told Tagesschau that “employees' dissatisfaction is great, their concerns are legitimate”, accusing Deutsche Bahn of stalling for time in pay negotiations and not recognising the rising cost of living for workers.

In response, company human resources director Martin Seiler told the broadcaster that the strike was “completely unnecessary”, accusing the GDL of harming industrial relations and not being reasonable in negotiations - Deutsche Bahn’s offer, rejected by the GDL, would see employee wages gradually rise by 11 percent over a period of almost three years.

The GDL represents around 10.000 workers at Deutsche Bahn. While not the largest union connected with Deutsche Bahn, the fact that a high number of GDL members are train drivers means that the union has the potential to greatly disrupt train traffic during a strike. To see how the strike will impact services in Germany, check out our guide.

How will the German rail strike affect my journey in Switzerland?

For travellers in Switzerland, the strike at Deutsche Bahn will affect all public transport services controlled by the company. Cross-border services completely or partially run by the firm, such as those to and from Basel, Schaffhausen and Kreuzlingen, will be heavily impacted on strike days. What’s more, all ICE services in Switzerland, serving destinations like Zurich, Interlaken, Chur and Bern among others, will also be severely disrupted. 

Deutsche Bahn will be running an “emergency schedule” during the strike itself, meaning that while there will be a small number of trains running as usual, they are likely to be very full. “The strike timetable only ensures a very limited basic service in DB's long-distance and regional transport. Please postpone your trip to another time”, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) wrote.

Should I travel from Switzerland to Germany on November 15-16?

Therefore, anyone with tickets for journeys between Switzerland and Germany will be able to use their tickets at a later date on any valid route. Passengers will also be able to rebook their journeys to before the strike starts at 10pm on November 15, although SBB recommends that if you do choose this method, make sure that you will reach your final destination before the strike begins.

How will SBB be affected by the German rail strike?

Trains operated by SBB or any other Swiss public transport company will not be affected by the strikes in Germany. Unless the service chosen is run by Deutsche Bahn, rail connections between Swiss cities will not be affected.

In addition, services between Germany and Switzerland that are run by SBB - such as the Eurocity (EC) between Zurich and Munich - will not be affected by the strike action. However, these trains are expected to be extremely busy. To stay updated on the situation, visit the official website.

Thumb image credit: Markus Mainka /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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