Network Rail cuts hundreds of managers to save £30m

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of senior and middle managers are to be made redundant by Network Rail as part of a programme to save up to £30m a year, the rail infrastructure firm said yesterday.

Hundreds of senior and middle managers are to be made redundant by Network Rail as part of a programme to save up to £30m a year, the rail infrastructure firm said yesterday.

Union leaders condemned the cuts as "misguided and ill thought-out" after the company announced that between 600 and 700 staff at its national and regional headquarters would lose their jobs over the next six weeks. The compulsory redundancies among administrative and backroom staff represent a 15 per cent cut in Network Rail's managers.

A spokeswoman said the operation, which has taken on 3,000 staff since Railtrack, Network's Rail's commercial predecessor, was founded, was too "top heavy". The company, which employs 14,500 workers, insisted no frontline maintenance or safety staff would be affected.

She said: "We informed our employees yesterday of our intention to reduce the number of senior and middle managers at headquarters and the regions by 15 per cent. This affects 600 to 700 people and delivers savings of £25m to £30m a year."

The mood at the company's headquarters was said to be gloomy after the announcement, which was made earlier than expected by staff.

The redundancies are part of a programme of 2,000 job cuts, which was announced in the summer to save £1.3bn over the next three years.

Network Rail has faced demands for cuts in rail maintenance costs. But the Transport Salaried Staff Association, which represents 4,700 managers at Network Rail, attacked the decision.

The association's national negotiator, John Munday, said: "This is a knee-jerk reaction that will ultimately backfire on Network Rail. This will have a deeply demoralising effect on the remaining managers who have to implement the cost reduction programme. They will be for ever looking over their shoulders wondering if they can trust this company again."

Last month Network Rail announced plans to cut its spending on track and signal renewal by £5bn over five years. The company raised fears of a decade of deterioration in the rail network after it published a plan to reduce spending to £24.5bn.

A report by the Strategic Rail Authority last night stated that railway track renewal work should be concentrated on the most-used areas of the network, to save £750m a year.

The authority recommended that renewal activity should be scaled back on the more underused areas of track,.

It also recommended concentrated and longer periods, or "possessions", during which Network Rail carries out track work, as these are are seen as more efficient than the stop-go possessions.

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