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Europe's locomotive hitting buffers?

Monday, October 20, 2014 - 01:50

Germany braces for more transport chaos as its pilots union extends a strike at Lufthansa to include long-haul flights after a weekend of disruption on the railways left millions of passengers stranded. Sara Hemrajani reports.

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Often hailed as a well-oiled machine, Germany's transport system hasn't been functioning as smoothly these past few days - and there are signs of more chaos to come. Lufthansa has now cancelled 1,450 flights after a pilots union called for a two-day strike starting Monday. The walk out is the eighth this year at the national carrier. This latest strike will affect 200,000 passengers booked on short- and long-haul journeys. Many say the frequent disruption is testing their patience. SOUNDBITE: Rainer Dobbener, passenger, saying (German): "It's annoying, it's really annoying. I have lost sympathy and I don't have any understanding anymore why this should be carried out at the expense of passengers." Adding to travellers' misery over the weekend was a railway strike. Millions were left stranded following a decision by the country's train drivers to stop work for 50 hours. Daragh Maher at HSBC says another big concern is the fact that Europe's engine of growth may be stalling. SOUNDBITE: Daragh Maher, Director of FX Strategy, HSBC, saying (English): "I think we often have some form of industrial unrest in the core and in Germany. I think the greater concern is the cyclical one, the fact that we've seen some softer numbers on the economy in Germany lately, and this powerhouse of Eurozone growth is perhaps spluttering a little bit." Both the pilots' and train drivers' strikes have hit at the beginning of half-term holidays in several of Germany's 16 federal states. And critics say the pilots' strike is hampering the national airline in its bids to expand low-cost operations and compete more effectively with budget carriers, like Ryanair and easyJet, on European routes. Berlin is working on legislation to stop small groups of employees from paralysing large parts of the country's infrastructure, such as rail and air travel.

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Europe's locomotive hitting buffers?

Monday, October 20, 2014 - 01:50