Rail funding cuts will compromise passenger safety and could mean the loss of much needed train services, a new report from the Trade Unions Congress has warned.

The report details the likely consequences of spending cuts planned by Network Rail and of government cuts to funding for train services.

Network Rail plans to cut annual expenditure by £100 million, mainly through the loss of 2,500 rail maintenance jobs.

Previously unpublished RMT analysis of Network Rail data finds that this will lead to 670,000 fewer hours of maintenance work annually.

The TUC says it is impossible to make those cuts without losing many safety-critical jobs.

Network Rail responsibilities include track maintenance – essential to avoiding accidents fatal like Hatfield, which was the result of the metal tracks fatiguing.

Network Rail is also responsible for maintaining signals to ensure trains are on time and prevent collisions, for the electricity supply to the network, and for the safe upkeep of buildings including public spaces like the UK’s largest rail stations.

In addition to major cuts at Network Rail, the Treasury has ordered the Department for Transport to slash its annual budget by 10 per cent as part of last year’s Spending Review.

Following this, the DfT wrote to train operating companies telling them to plan for major cuts to operating costs.

Unions are concerned that the DfT’s demand for cuts signifies intention to reduce public funding for rail services. With ticket revenue still not fully recovered from the pandemic, this could mean that many rail services are permanently stopped across all parts of the UK.

The TUC says ministers must protect rail services while passenger levels continue their recovery from the pandemic, arguing that a network with greater capacity and more services is essential to the future strength of the UK economy and to reaching net zero emissions.

A Network Rail spokesperson said in light of the report: “Britain’s railway is the safest major network in Europe, and we’d never make changes that would compromise that hard-won achievement.

“The modernisation proposals we’ve put on the table would help our workforce be more flexible, enabling us to avoid compulsory job losses [and] help our workforce be safer because they won’t work on live tracks as often. So far our ideas have fallen on deaf ears.”