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Biggest strike in years cripples German rail service

National rail operator calls action 'irresponsible'; union accuses it of stonewalling in talks over demands for 5% wage hike and shorter working week of 37 hours

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Passengers stranded as holidays started last weekend in seven of Germany's 16 regional states.

Berlin

GERMAN rail travellers were hit last Saturday by delays and disruptions on one of autumn's busiest travel weekends as the train drivers' union began one of its largest strikes in recent years.

Only about a third of traffic on major lines was running, national rail operator