Railroad bosses are drafting contingency plans to end what is expected to be the largest rail strike in modern history, leaving supermarket shelves empty and gas pumps dry.
Union barons hatch a plan to unleash chaos in an effort to block plans to cut thousands of maintenance jobs and secure double-digit pay increases for their staff.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union is halfway through a vote for workers’ strikes at train operators and Network Rail, with the vote closing on Tuesday.
Manuel Cortes, head of the Transport Salried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), has promised the biggest disruption since the 1926 general strike as his union also consults members.
The looming crisis has forced rail drivers to draft a series of measures to minimize the disruption and economic damage a strike could cause. Industrial action can start as early as June 7.
Plans include for freight trains to be given priority over passenger services to avoid potential food and fuel shortages, including by introducing times when tracks are reserved for goods, The Times reported.
Other measures could include training managers to run trains and Network Rail working with operators on a skeletal, 12-hour timetable to keep key services running, according to reports.
It remains unclear whether a strike would be executed as one major action or as a series of rolling strikes.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, is expected to meet with the prime minister next week to discuss the issue.
Ministers fear that a national strike at Network Rail, especially one involving signalmen, will cause most of the disruptions and that services will have to be “drasically” smaller than usual, the Financial Times reported.