Railtrack director quits with pounds 250,000 pay-off after one year

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The Independent Online
A senior Railtrack director yesterday quit the company unexpectedly with a pay-off which is expected to be in the region of pounds 250,000.

The company said Michael Howell, who had been in the post of commercial director for a year, had resigned. The Railtrack chairman, Sir Bob Horton, said his departure was in both parties' interests.

Mr Howell, 49, joined Railtrack after a career in the private sector which included long spells in the US. His job was to develop the company's relationships with train operating companies and freight companies. But his entrepreneurial style is not thought to have been suited to Railtrack, which operates in a heavily regulated environment where its income and charges are fixed.

Before joining Railtrack, Mr Howell worked for General Electric and Cummins Engines in the US, returning four years ago to take up a post with Arlington, the capital fund managers, before being recruited to the railway.

Railtrack said his business style did not fit easily with the constraints it operated under. But it denied rumours Mr Howell had fallen out with his chief executive, John Edmonds, over a deal with the freight train operator English, Welsh and Scottish Railway over access charges for new freight business.

"There was no big issue and there was no row. It was just one of those things that did not work out," a source said.

Mr Howell was paid pounds 150,000 and was on a two-year contract. He would have been entitled to bonuses under Railtrack's incentive scheme had he stayed.