The UK railway industry has set several contingency plans ahead of a potential strike by the union RMT, which could involve up to 40,000 workers.
Network Rail said it had measures in place to “better understand the disruption it may cause to passengers and freight services.”
The government-owned railway operator said it was working with freight companies and their customers “to plan ahead and mitigate against the impact on national supply chains.”
The industry’s strategy follows last month’s decision by the union RMT to ballot for strike action.
Ending on 24 May after more than a month, the vote involved all of 40,000 RMT members working across the railway network and if it were to pass, it could be the biggest strike in railway history.
The union cited salaries and Network Rail’s planned cut of 2,500 maintenance jobs as the main reasons behind the potential strike action.
“We believe in modernising the railways but we do not believe in sacrificing thousands of jobs, constant pay freezes or making the railways unsafe,” RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch told the outlet.
“That is what government plans will mean for the railways if RMT and other transport unions don’t mount a comprehensive defence of the industry. A modern railway should have well paid professional staff providing a safe welcoming environment for the public.”
RDG rebutted saying train operators were “working hard” to rise staff pay but the industry still needed to “improve productivity.”
“The alternatives of asking taxpayers to shoulder even more of the burden or passengers to pay even higher fares when they too are feeling the pinch, simply isn’t fair,” a RDG spokesperson said.
Lynch’s comments come two weeks after the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) said the cuts would lead to an increase in safety-related accidents.
“But if the Network Rail cuts go ahead it will mean the loss of safety-critical jobs and a greater risk of serious accidents like Stonehaven, Potters Bar and Hatfield. Ministers must not risk passenger safety through funding cuts to Network Rail,” said TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady on 4 May.
The accusations were rejected by Network Rail, who said the company would never implement changes that would hinder safety.