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York based Network Rail Chief Exec urged to turn down bonus


12:33pm 2nd February 2012

Network Rail's chief executive is under pressure from MPs to reject a potential £340,000 bonus.

Former Labour rail minister Tom Harris has tabled a motion, signed by 27 other MPs from his party, calling on Sir David Higgins and the firm's directors to turn down any bonus payment.

A spokesman for Network Rail (NR), which is in charge of the country's rail infrastructure, said the firm's members would meet later this month to decide on the structure of a bonus scheme but no decisions had been made.

In the Commons motion, Mr Harris said NR had been ``found by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to be in breach of its licence and that, according to the ORR, 'major asset failures, congested routes and poor management of track condition' contributed to poor performance of the UK rail network in 2011''.

Following the ORR's ruling in December last year, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said:

``We have been repeatedly clear that bonuses should only be awarded for exceptional performance.

``Passengers would be extremely surprised if NR attempted to award bonuses next year in the light of this action by the ORR.''

Mr Harris' motion claimed that NR's members, at their meeting on February 10, would ``be asked to confirm annual bonuses for directors equivalent to 60% of their annual salary, resulting in a £340,000 bonus for its chief executive''.

The motion ``calls on the company's directors to reject these bonuses''.

But a spokesman for NR said:

``no decision has been made on bonuses'' and the meeting would ``decide the shape of a scheme''.

``That does not mean a bonus will be paid. It will decide on a mechanism.

``Just like any other private company, the final decision will by made by the remuneration committee.''

On Tuesday, NR admitted health and safety breaches over the deaths of two teenagers killed at a level crossing.

Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train in 2005 as they crossed the tracks at Elsenham station footpath crossing in Essex.

The firm also faces prosecution over the 2007 Grayrigg train crash in Cumbria in which one passenger died.

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