UK

Network Rail boss 'may take bonus' after disruption

Crowds at Finsbury Park Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Finsbury Park station was temporarily closed on Saturday following police advice

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has told the BBC an internal committee will decide what bonus he should take, following recent major rail disruption.

Mr Carne said he could get a maximum of £34,000, or around 5% of his £675,000 annual salary.

London King's Cross station was closed on Saturday after engineering work over-ran, leaving thousands of people unable to return home from Christmas.

London Paddington was also temporarily shut after work did not finish on time.

Many hundreds of people were left queuing in freezing temperatures after being diverted to Finsbury Park station in north London, which was being used as a temporary terminal, before it was closed on police advice.

The problems continued into Sunday morning, with some trains arriving into King's Cross up to 90 minutes late.

By Monday, normal service had resumed.

Mr Carne told the BBC one of the changes he had made when he started in the post earlier this year was to reduce the biggest possible bonus he could get from 160% to 20%, of his salary, or around £135,000.

He apologised about the disruption caused by the over-running works. Network Rail owns Britain's rail infrastructure, including track, stations and signals, and is in charge of maintaining and updating the network.

'Enormously disruptive'

Mr Carne did not say for sure whether or not he would be taking his bonus.

"I have reduced the bonus from 160% to 20%. We have made significant steps to defuse the issue of bonuses. We have had a very difficult time over the festive period," he said.

Mr Carne said he had launched a review into what went wrong and who was responsible for the situation on the 27 December, adding the results would be published by 9 January.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Passengers complained about a lack of information

He said it was likely to be an "issue" of the projects section of his business, rather than operations.

But he defended the company's choice to run the work over the Christmas period, as half the number of people used the railways compared with non-holiday times.

But the Network Rail boss added: "This was an enormously disruptive period of time."

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin welcomed Mr Carne's assurances that he and Network Rail would be learning lessons from the delays.

But he added: "This must not just be warm words, however. Passengers deserve real action and I will be holding Network Rail to this commitment."

'Use passengers' views'

He said it was "right" for Mr Carne to have his bonus slashed as the authority's performance had been found "wanting".

Sunday's problems were caused by a signalling issue near Finsbury Park and congestion caused by the over-running work, National Rail Enquiries said.

A revised service is operating on Monday on Great Northern routes to and from King's Cross station.

The Office of Rail Regulation is to investigate the disruption, which was part of a £200m investment programme.

Anthony Smith, chief executive at independent watchdog Passenger Focus, said: "When things go wrong, as happened this weekend, it is more difficult for Network Rail to justify performance-related bonuses.

"Perhaps it is time for these payments to be linked with passengers' views of how the network has performed."

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