IAIN COUCHER, the Network Rail chief executive, sent shockwaves through the rail industry yesterday after announcing his resignation.
City A.M. understands that new transport secretary Philip Hammond and the Department for Transport (DfT) was unhappy with Network Rail’s performance.
A report by Sir Roy McNulty, who is chairing a review of the previous government, found that the not-for-profit rail company produced costs that were 30 to 50 per cent less efficient than its European counterparts.
A spokesperson from DfT said the matter was an issue for Network Rail.
Coucher’s departure comes one year into a five-year funding period for the rail infrastructure group.
He will leave Network Rail once a successor has been found.
“Following three years as chief executive, and five before that as deputy, now is a good time for me to move on. The company needs continuity of leadership throughout the next five year regulatory review period,” said Coucher.
Chairman Rick Haythornthwaite is leading the search for Coucher’s replacement, however no decision has yet been made.
Haythornthwaite, said: “One year into a five year financial settlement, now is the ideal time in our financial and regulatory cycle for Iain to hand over to a new chief executive.”
Coucher joined Network Rail at its inception eight years ago as deputy chief executive from the London Underground upgrade firm Tube Lines where he was chief executive.
Last year the rail group saw profits plunge by almost 75 per cent at the same time company costs and debts rose.