Reduction in funding to Network Rail has led to staff shortages, less frequent inspections and the increasing use of workers on zero-hours contracts, the report said.
Rail employees said that when safety concerns were raised, they were rarely acted upon, and "as a result workers were much less likely to raise potential safety issues".
Based on interviews with rail workers, the report was carried out on behalf of the four unions behind the TUC's Action for Rail campaign (Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite) by the Working Lives Institute at London Metropolitan University.
The report said workers were worried a major accident could happen "as a result of the culture that has developed in rail maintenance where safety is threatened because of a lack of resources".
A total of 11 people gave views to the report compilers. Of these, five were NR staff, four were employed by contractors, one was an RMT trade union official and one was a TSSA official.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "When track workers - who see with their own eyes when safety corners are being cut - warn that a major accident could be just around the corner, it's time for ministers to wake up and act."
The RMT said: "Corners are being cut and essential maintenance work delayed as the obsession with meeting cuts and targets overrides the delivery of safe and efficient services."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Safety must be a top priority, and we look to NR and the ORR to ensure the rail network is run in a safe and reliable way."
NR said: "Despite this report being based on the views of just five of our 35,000-strong workforce, parts of it echo our own analysis."