Bonus cut for Railway chief

NETWORK RAIL chief executive Iain Coucher has given up his annual bonus, he announced yesterday, saying he didn&rsquo;t want his pay to overshadow the company&rsquo;s performance.<br /><br />But Coucher will still be paid his annual long-term bonus, which is based on how well the company has done over the past three years.<br /><br />The decision comes ahead of a meeting by Network Rail&rsquo;s remuneration committee, scheduled to take place next month.<br /><br />The committee will decide the award payments for members of the company&rsquo;s executive committee, which could add up to hundreds of thousands of pounds.<br /><br />Those awaiting &nbsp;payments are group infrastructure director Peter Henderson, operations director Robin Gisby, infrastructure investment director Simon Kirby, and planning director Paul Plummer.<br /><br />A Network Rail spokesman said Coucher saw bonuses as &ldquo;toxic&rdquo;, and that the &ldquo;well of public opinion had been poisoned by the criticism of big executive payments&rdquo;.<br /><br />But Coucher has previously defended bonuses at his company, saying: &ldquo;The comparisons with Fred Goodwin and car manufacturers are completely wrong. We have saved the taxpayer billions of pounds and driven up the number of people using the railway.&rdquo;<br /><br />Last year, Coucher&rsquo;s &pound;539,000 annual salary was boosted to &pound;1.24m with 2007-08 bonuses.<br /><br />Network Rail, which runs the UK&rsquo;s track and signals, has been under fire for disruption to passengers over holidays and weekends. It has been ordered to cut disruptions by 21 per cent over the coming five years. The firm says it has cut the costs of running the network by &pound;1bn a year.