Network Rail bosses waive bonuses

 

The chief executive and other directors of Network Rail became the
latest top bosses to waive lucrative bonuses today when they decided to
give the money to safety improvements instead.

The executives were facing increasing political pressure not to receive any extra money this year amid controversy over bonuses for banking and other bosses.

The issue was due to be discussed on Friday at a Network Rail meeting, which has now been postponed, potentially leading to the six executives sharing hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonus payments on top of their salaries.

Chief executive Sir David Higgins, who is paid a basic salary of £560,000, said: "Even if this situation does arise this year, I and my directors decided last week that we would forego any entitlement and instead allocate the money to the safety improvement fund for level crossings. I can confirm that remains our intention."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "As a general rule clearly the Prime Minister is keen to see responsibility and restraint exercised by boards of companies whether they are in the private or public sector."

Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who had announced that she would attend this week's meeting and vote against the bonus payments, said: "Network Rail's decision to postpone the meeting planned for this Friday and look again at their proposed executive bonus structure is sensible and welcome.

"I have made it clear to Network Rail at every stage that this proposed package did not go far enough in reflecting the need for restraint. It was also the wrong time to look at this issue, given I will be shortly unveiling a rail review that will strengthen the corporate governance of Network Rail and see a special director appointed to the board to represent the views of taxpayers.

"The fact that its executive directors have also chosen to forfeit their annual bonuses to improve level crossings is a sign that they have recognised the strength of public opinion."

Network Rail chairman Rick Haythornthwaite said: "Friday's meeting was not to approve a specific annual bonus payment for executive directors, but rather to amend a previously approved long-term incentive scheme to ensure additional external scrutiny of performance.

"The issue of annual performance payments would only arise if Network Rail surpassed stretching performance thresholds and would only be decided in May after the end of the financial year."

Six Network Rail executives are affected by the announcement, although sources stressed that no decision had even been taken on the size of any bonus.

The remuneration committee usually meets after the end of the financial year at the end of March to agree a figure. The executives did not receive a bonus last year either.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "We said last week that it beggared belief that Network Rail could be talking about a multimillion, long-term bonus scheme within days of admitting criminal behaviour over the deaths of two schoolgirls at Elsenham six years ago.

"That tragedy only happened because it refused to spend £2 million on a new bridge at the level crossing despite an internal safety report demanding such action.

"This decision is sadly too little, too late for the parents of the girls who tragically died. But we welcome it as the first step in the direction of the directors starting to put safety and the passengers ahead of their own handsome rewards."

Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers' union Aslef, said of the postponement of this week's meeting: "It is encouraging that they at least appear to have tactical nous - even if they lack other qualities.

"The Network Rail directors' decisions on timing were at fault if it were indeed the case that they had decided last week to forego any entitlement and allocate the money to the safety improvement fund for level crossings.

"In similar circumstances I would have announced this before I was obliged to do so from under a heap of public criticism."

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: "Justine Greening did not believe that senior executives at Network Rail merited their bonuses and said she would vote accordingly at the annual general meeting.

"We would expect this of shareholders in listed companies, and expected it of the Government in this case. Only through this kind of activism will executive pay be brought into line with performance."

Anthony Smith, chief executive of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said: "Passengers will rightly expect that any decisions taken by the Department for Transport and others to have the needs of passengers placed at the heart of those decisions.

"Passengers are less concerned about Network Rail bonuses than they are about value-for-money rail fares on punctual, reliable and frequent train services. However, these potential bonuses might set passengers wondering when their performance bonus - more trains on time - will arrive."

Last week, Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, which is more than 80% owned by the taxpayer, agreed to waive his near-£1 million bonus under pressure from ministers and the Labour party.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture