The Treasury has been accused of blocking train operators from offering unions a pay rise that would have prevented strike action over the holiday period, due to fears of public sector wages spiralling out of control.

The Telegraph reports train companies were willing to offer pay rises of between 8-9% over the next two years under a national framework agreed on by both operators and unions.

The government, which must sign off on all pay increases, is said to have vetoed the proposals. Treasury officials are thought to be concerned that pay rises would burden the taxpayer and further fan inflation.

Last week, rail staff announced four days of strikes in the run-up to Christmas and four days in early January, in a move that trade bodies warned would be “devastating” for the sector.