Rail firm under fire for trying to ‘bury’ news of bosses’ bonuses

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NETWORK Rail has been accused of “burying bad news” by announcing details of executive bonuses as the glare of publicity is on local election results.

The company said its remuneration committee had decided to award “significantly” reduced bonuses of around £50,000 for each of five eligible directors. The amount represents around 12.5 per cent of salary, whereas the maximum possible was 60 per cent, said Network Rail (NR).

No bonus was earned for passenger train punctuality, where targets were not met. A 20 per cent reduction was also made to reflect less progress on safety performance than expected, despite good progress in reducing overall level crossing safety risk.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association said: “These unjustified bonuses were agreed on Wednesday in London and cynically delayed until today so NR could ‘bury the bad news’. The directors eligible for the annual bonus award are David Higgins, NR’s former chief executive, who left the company earlier this year; Patrick Butcher, group finance director; Robin Gisby, managing director, network operations; Simon Kirby, the former managing director, infrastructure projects, who left last week; and Paul Plummer, group strategy director. NR said: “The decision reflects mixed results on key performance objectives during the year, but recognises well-managed recovery from a winter of extreme weather.” Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “The bonus issue, and the way it has been smuggled out under cover of a heavy news day, diverts attention from the savage cuts to the safety-critical staff out on the tracks who keep the services running.”