Network Rail boss to stand down

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The Independent Online

Network Rail chairman Sir Ian McAllister is to step down from his post next year, it was announced today.

Sir Ian, 65, was heavily criticised for the Network Rail (NR) engineering overruns at the last new year which resulted in travel chaos for thousands of passengers.



He said he had decided not to go into his NR office as he would only get in the way.



NR was fined a record £14m by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for the overruns, the worst of which was at Rugby on the busy London to Scotland East Coast Main Line.



NR said he would be stepping down from NR's board following the not-for-dividend company's annual meeting next July. He will stay with the company until a successor is found.



NR's group finance director Ron Henderson has also said he is going to retire.



Sir Ian has been with NR since it took over in 2002 from the ill-fated Railtrack which was put into administration.



Although NR has been seen to be a huge improvement on Railtrack, the company has faced repeated criticism over its performance from the ORR, which wants NR to cut costs.



NR has also been under the cosh from those opposed to the bonus payments made to senior executives, including Mr Henderson.



Sir Ian said today: "Network Rail has delivered substantial improvements in the safety, reliability and efficiency of the railway over the past six years.



"Safety is at record levels, train punctuality is now above 90 per cent, and we are on track to reduce cost by around 30 per cent by the next annual general meeting. I have led the board for over six years now and a great deal has been achieved in that time.



"As the company enters a new phase in its development, it is entirely appropriate that a new chairman helps take the company forward.



"The next challenge is for NR to help deliver an expanded and enhanced railway to meet the growing demand from passenger and freight customers. My role now will be to help find a replacement and see through a smooth transition."

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