The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has said he wants to end what he considers to be out-of-date working practices and excessive wage demands for rail sector staff.

As the long-standing British Airways dispute came to an end with a deal that included concessions being reinstated and pay rises of up to 5 per cent, Hammond said that wages in the rail sector had gone up faster than in any other industry. He reckoned that rail operating costs had risen by £1.7bn over a decade and fares were likely to up for the next three years by 3 per cent.

“Ensuring that Britain’s railways become affordable for passengers and taxpayers will need everyone in the industry to work together,” Hammond said. “A 21st century rail network needs 21st century employment practices, from the boardroom to the shopfloor. With fares and levels of taxpayer support already so high, it would be simply irresponsible for us to ignore this issue any longer. Addressing inefficient working practices and excessive wage demands will form a key part of the strategy for building a sustainable and affordable railway.”

However, Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT union, said of Hammond’s comments: “This is class war in the raw, with its roots planted deep in the playing fields of Eton.”

And Gerry Doherty, the leader of the TSSA rail union, said: “The fault lies exclusively with the Tories for selling off an industry which in the rest of the Europe is still owned by the state and run more cheaply as a public service