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24-hour railway strike brings trains to standstill across Austria

Empty tracks are seen at the central station as Austria's rail workers stage a strike that shuts down all train traffic throughout the country, in Vienna, Austria, November 28, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

A 24-hour railway strike has brought trains to a standstill across Austria, as railway workers demand a pay rise for the sector.

The strike grounded to a halt all rail traffic from midnight on Monday, affecting some 8,000 connections and around one million passengers, as workers are protesting over pay.

The strike impacted transport at all levels in the European country, from public transport to regional services and long distance night trains. Rail freight lines were also affected.

According to the head of Austria's rail network, services would be more or less back to normal on Tuesday.

"I don't want to rule out the possibility of irregularities on one train or the other, but in general, I expect that we will be back to serving our customers with the usual quality as of Tuesday," said Andreas Matthae, the chief of the ÖBB corporation, which is  Austria's largest mobility services provider.

The central European country is an important hub for Europe's rail travel as it is wedged between eight countries, including Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Austria's main rail workers' union has called for a flat-rate wage increase of 400 euros ($417.88) for the sector's 50,000 employees, representing an average increase of around 12 percent.

This is while Austria's Chamber of Commerce has already offered railway workers 208 euros more, plus a one-off payment of 1,000 euros, representing an increase of a little over eight percent.

The union called Monday's "warning strike" after a fifth round of negotiations fell through on Sunday.

"I cannot understand this strike at all. With an offer of 8.44 percent [ÖBB] has made the highest offer of any sector. This is clearly a malicious strike on the part of the union," said Austrian railway chief, Andreas Matthä.

He added that the ÖBB would do all it can to resume operations as soon as possible.

Back in October, inflation in Austria was at 11 percent year-on-year.

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