Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher resigns

Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher is to resign, following criticism over staff pay and bonuses.

Coucher, who earns four times as much as the prime minister, said earlier that he was worth every penny of his salary, and would not take a pay cut.

His remuneration package has come under fire from both the transport secretary and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) despite his decision to waive his £300,000 annual bonus last year.

Rail infrastructure firm Network Rail receives £4bn of state funding a year, the Guardian has reported, but operating profits fell by 4.5% in the year to 31 March. Although technically independent, it is funded by government grants and state-underwritten debt.

Coucher’s resignation after three years as chief executive is not without controversy. Gerry Doherty, leader of the TSSA rail union, welcomed the news, but said: “We have been campaigning over the past two years for an inquiry into the culture of fear and bullying presided over by Coucher and his HR director Peter Bennett.”

Bennett is the subject of a series of sex discrimination allegations and stands accused of spending more than £10m on confidentiality agreements with disgruntled staff.

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