The UK's rail authority will compensate train firms by up to £10m if a series of planned strikes by guards start on Friday, it has been revealed.
BBC online reports that the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) says three 24-hour walkouts planned over the next few weeks were not justified and that train companies should not suffer financially because of them.
A spokesman for the SRA said the authority would not let the train companies take a financial hit because it is not within their power to stop the action. He said the safety process the strike centres on is already under way and striking will not change the outcome.
However unions are angry at the move. Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT), said: "The cash the Government is throwing at these all but bankrupt operators would be better spent on improving the railways."
The union has called for strike action over guards' safety roles after many train companies switched the responsibility for safety from guards to drivers.
Talks to avert the strikes, which threaten to disrupt rail services across the country, will be held on Wednesday.