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Network Rail bosses pocket £900,000 in 'golden handcuffs'

Three directors at taxpayer-backed Network Rail are to be awarded £300,000 each in one-off retention payments, despite one director failing to meet his targets.

The ‘golden handcuffs’ will be awarded to finance director Patrick Butcher, network operations managing director Robin Gisby, and infrastructure projects managing director Simon Kirby.

The payments are designed to prevent the directors moving to other firms, after it emerged they had been approached by interested employers.

A Network Rail spokesman told Construction News “We’re not calling them bonuses – we’re aware they’ve been approached by other employers and this retention payment is designed to make sure they won’t be lured elsewhere.”

“They’ve been involved in big projects – the rationale is that we didn’t want to disrupt the delivery of these projects with people leaving.”

Network Rail head of media Kevin Growes told CN: “We haven’t actually got either annual or a long-term bonus scheme at the moment. All of our directors this year waived their bonus entitlement.

“These three guys are essential to deliver the targets we have to deliver for this control period - £12bn worth of projects, delivering record levels of performance, and making savings of £6bn.”

“We’re doing well on both costs and savings, but performance is slightly behind ORR [Office of Rail Regulation] targets.”

The three directors are on basic salaries of between £330,000 and £350,000. Chief executive Sir David Higgins earlier this year donated his bonus, along with the other bosses, to a rail safety charity, a move which was praised by the government.

The Transport Salaried Staff Association yesterday staged a demonstration in Glasgow, with members dressed as Thomas the Tank Engine character the Fat Controller decrying “the biggest gravy train in rail history”.

Union leader Manual Cortes said the bosses were “living in cloud cuckoo land if they think they can get that amount of money while passengers are being forced to pay above inflation fare rises year on year to fund  investment in rail”.

“They want all the gain while passengers get all the pain. So much for everyone being in this together.”

Earlier this week the government announced plans for a £4.2bn boost to the UK’s rail infrastructure, much of which is owned by Network Rail.

The union has accused Network Rail of aiming for £18.5m in benefits for the company’s directors in plans to be negotiated to the Office of Rail Regulation later this year, and said the company was being “disingenuous”. Network Rail has dismissed the £18.5m figure as “speculation and naughtiness”.

The firm passed the remuneration package at its AGM yesterday. The directors will receive the retention payments if they are still with Network Rail in spring 2014.


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