Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Network Rail chief left with £1.6m

Network Rail's former CEO Iain Coucher has drawn heavy criticism after leaving the firm with a huge pay-off

Network Rail's former chief executive left the company with a pay-off, salary and other benefits of more than £1.6 million last year, it has been revealed.

Iain Coucher received a compensation package of £1,075,000, salary of £359,000, pension of £214,000 and benefits of £9,000, NR said in its annual report.

Gerry Doherty, the leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said Mr Coucher had been "rewarded for failure" on a grand scale, predicting that rail passengers would be "furious".

NR said the compensation payment included contractual payments for pay in lieu of notice (12 months' salary) and a negotiated settlement to close out potential long-term incentive plan award rights.

The annual report also showed that four current executives received more than £280,000 between them in the last financial year under the long-term incentive plan, ranging from £61,725 to £90,723.

Mr Coucher, who stepped down last September after three years in the job, said: "The payment I received upon leaving Network Rail reflected the fact that whilst I was prepared to work my full notice period, the company did not want me to. This triggered a payment in line with my contract in lieu of this notice period and bonuses I would have received.

"I fully understand the strong sentiments that issues around executive remuneration have begun to arouse in recent years. But I am proud of my role in the transformation of Britain's railways which are unrecognisably safer, more punctual and more efficient than when I was asked to help rescue Railtrack and establish Network Rail."

Rick Haythornthwaite, NR's chairman, said: "The past year has seen some significant progress in driving down the costs of running the rail network but we know that we still have a great deal to achieve. Under our new chief executive, David Higgins, we need to continue to focus intensely on delivering an even better value, more punctual railway for our customers and for passengers."

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: "This pay-off will stick in the gullet of every farepayer and taxpayer who think they pay too much to use our railway. The pay-off is based on his contractual rights but most people will feel it doesn't sit well given the difficult times most families are facing."

He went on: "I will be seeking assurances that this is the last chapter in the sorry saga of the old NR as set up by Gordon Brown. We have made clear that any future incentive system should focus on rewarding exceptional and sustained long-term outperformance and be based on the principle that bonuses are not an automatic right."

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