A series of rail strikes scheduled for next week will “punish millions of innocent people,” according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Commuters and students taking exams, he said, would be among those affected.
However, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) claimed that politicians had stymied progress in negotiations.
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, almost all major lines in the United Kingdom will be closed, as will the London Underground.
There will also be repercussions on non-strike days, including Monday.
The RMT’s Mick Lynch claimed on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House that rail operators were refusing to meet for talks, while Network Rail – which maintains the tracks and runs larger train stations – was being influenced by government ministers.
“It’s Shapps, [Boris] Johnson, and Rishi Sunak who are preventing a settlement in this dispute,” he explained.
However, Network Rail stated that the RMT was dismissing talks before they were completed.
And Mr Shapps urged the union to back down in order to assist those who rely on the rail network, claiming that many people would not be paid if they could not get to work, others would be unable to attend hospital appointments, and children taking exams would face additional distraction.