Railtrack board gets pay increases of 14%

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The Independent Online
Railtrack's board earned a total of pounds 1.4bn in its first year as a public company, a rise of more than 38 per cent on 1996, according to its annual report published today. Part of the rise can be attributed to the appointment of an extra director, Michael Howell, who left the group abruptly in March.

After excluding Mr Howell's remuneration, Railtrack's directors awarded themselves pounds 1.2bn, including performance bonuses of pounds 332,000. That amounts to a pay rise of almost 14 per cent, an increase well ahead of the rate of inflation. The pay increases are bound to fuel the controversy that has surrounded the group since it was privatised 13 months ago.

The annual report also reveals that Mr Howell, former commercial director, has received a pay-off of more than pounds 292,000. He resigned from Railtrack in March after just one year with the company. Mr Howell had been charged with developing Railtrack's relationships with the train operating companies and freight groups. But it is understood his management style did not suit Railtrack. Mr Howell was on a two-year rolling contract. He earned pounds 203,000 in the year to March.

Railtrack's highest-paid director was John Edmonds, chief executive, who received a basic salary of pounds 168,000 as part of a total pay package of pounds 249,000. Mr Edmonds is due to step down as chief executive within the next few months, making way, it is understood, for Grand Metropolitan's former finance director, Gerald Corbett.