A major UK railway contractor is reportedly poised to collapse into administration in a move that would impact on up to 5,000 workers.
Salford-based Vital Services - which provides engineer and maintenance staff for Network Rail and London Underground - could hit the wall this week after struggling under debts, according to The Sunday Times.
It is understood that administrators Deloitte have already been put on standby.
Vital Services was founded by John Smith 30 years ago and provides permanent and temporary staff for a range of industries.
It is the largest supplier of labour for Network Rail.
But a s well as the rail sector, it also operates in the power and telecoms industry and offers staff for infrastructure projects.
The most recent accounts show the group posted losses of £600,000 in 2011.
Vital Services was not immediately available for comment.
High street shoe retailer Barratts is also said to be holding crunch talks with investors to stave off adminstration and safeguard 1,200 jobs.
The Bradford-based chain is thought to be working to secure emergency loans to help buy stock in the run up to Christmas.
The group was placed in administration just two years go, which saw 2,000 jobs lost and the store network halved to 90.
This followed the collapse of its parent Stylo in 2009.