“I don’t think Mr. Weselsky is doing himself or his union any favors with this style,” Mr. Wissing said.
As in many other European countries, trains in Germany are an important mode of transportation for a significant part of the population, offering both regular service between major cities and short commuter trips. Nonetheless, the roughly 25,000 miles of rail in Germany are overburdened, and less than 65 percent of intercity trains ran on time last year, according to Deutsche Bahn’s own numbers. Mr. Scholz’s government has vowed investment to rebuild older lines, but that construction will take years to complete, and the network is likely to deteriorate further in the meantime.
Two main unions represent rail workers in Germany. The bigger one, EVG, settled a dispute with Deutsche Bahn over pay increases to keep up with inflation last year. Those increases amounted to an increase of roughly 410 euros a month, or about $445, and a one-time tax-free bonus worth about $3,100. According to Christian Böttger, a professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin who studies rail transportation, that agreement has meant that Deutsche Bahn has been more willing to play hardball with the smaller G.D.L., to which most train drivers belong.
“When it comes to the actual issues, the two sides are not that far apart,” Professor Böttger said, referring to G.D.L. and Deutsche Bahn.
Markus Hecht, an expert in rail transport at the Technical University of Berlin, said he was worried that the six-day strike would hurt Deutsche Bahn’s goal of attracting new riders and cargo, one of the stated climate goals of Mr. Scholz’ three-party coalition. If the rail system was seen as unreliable, Professor Hecht said, travelers and businesses might look elsewhere for transport.
“It will have a huge impact that goes beyond just those days,” Professor Hecht said. “It will also have negative long-term effects.”