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Ministers must halt new NR bonus gravy train

30 March 2011

Ministers were urged today to cut back a new bonus scheme which will see NR bosses paid performance payments of 60 per cent on top of their big salaries.

TSSA leader Gerry Doherty called for action ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of NR public members which is due to approve the new scheme to replace the existing controversial "double your salary" plan.

Under the new plan, chief executive David Higgins could next year earn a bonus of £336,000 on top of his annual salary of £560,000.

The union boss called on Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to scale back the new scheme, pointing out that NR was receiving £4 billion a year in taxpayers support.

"We think 60 per cent is much better than the 100 per cent that Iain Coucher(former chief exec) used to award himself every year but is still far too generous for running what is in effect a public utility largely funded by the taxpayer.

"I don’t think that the travelling public, who pay the highest fares in Europe, would agree with bonuses at this level."

NR chairman Rick Haythornthwaite has ignored demands from a dozen public members to postpone tomorrow’s meeting to give them more time to consider the new scheme.

Under company rules at the not for profit firm, the 100 public members, who act effectively as share holders, have to approve the scheme which will operate until 2014.

It has been drawn up following the controversial departure last year of chief executive Iain Coucher who ignored ministerial warnings about taking any bonus and walked away with a final pay package of £1.4 million, including a bonus of £630,000.

It follows a clear warning from rail regulator Bill Emery who wrote to Steve Russell, head of NR’s remuneration committee earlier this month, warning him that the new system must be "open and transparent" and must address "some of the weaknesses with the previous arrangements".

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