Network Rail picks Shell man as its new boss

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A VETERAN of the oil industry will be the next boss of Network Rail, the manager of Britain’s railways said yesterday.

Mark Carne, who spent more than 20 years at Shell, will replace Sir David Higgins on 1 April 2014. He joins as the group starts a five-year, £40bn spending round and battles lingering problems with late-running trains.

Network Rail yesterday praised Carne for being “responsible for [Shell’s] business in a vital but volatile region at a time of significant political change”.

Carne was most recently Shell’s executive vice president for the Middle East and North Africa.

Prior to that, the 54-year-old Cornishman was in charge of Shell’s platforms in the North Sea and helped lead the firm’s response to the 1998 Piper Alpha disaster.

He will earn £675,000 in salary, and not take a bonus in his first year, compared to Sir David’s basic pay of £577,000 plus a bonus of around £99,000.

Network Rail said the pay plan was set after “an exhaustive and independent process which compared the salaries of chief executives in both the public and private sectors”.

Network Rail is considered a private entity, but funds its spending on the railways through bond issues guaranteed by the state combined with public subsidies.

The group is in the final stages of negotiating with the Office of Rail Regulation about its spending plans to maintain and upgrade Britain’s train routes for the five years to 2019.

The ORR has been critical of Network Rail’s role in punctuality failures, and in June slapped a mandatory minimum target on the group for the first time. It has also hit out at NR for failing to work together with franchise operators.