Thursday 24 June 2010


I noted that whilst we are all in this (by "this" I mean bankrupt Britian) together, the directors of the awful Railtrack... you know the company whose shoddy work makes millions of train journeys on the worst railways system in Western Europe into a living hell, announced their bonuses today.

They of course, bless them, have reacted to the advice of the government not to be ostentatious about them, being ostentatious about them, and they are even bigger than their massive six figure salaries.

Network Rail’s top directors are getting bonuses totalling more than £2.25 million, including £641,000 for chief executive Iain Coucher whose annual salary is £613,000 and who drives an Aston Martin DB9. (Hmmm, I’m always suspicious of someone whose name translates as “to sleep”.)

Unbelievably NR chairman Rick Haythornthwaite said the bonuses "had been earned". Clearly this is a man who speaks a different version of English from the one I call my maternal tongue and used up his talent for English trying to learn his over-long name.

Everyone it seems, who has anything to do with the railways has warned the company not to pay massive bonuses, but when it comes to greed, this lot appear to be practising for seats in the House of Lords, such is their monumental cheek. Philip Hammond the Transport Minister in England said he was "very disappointed that NR executives have accepted bonuses of this scale in the current climate". Bob Crow of the RMT union said that they had "got away with daylight robbery", and the Office of Rail Regulation also criticized the size of the bonuses.

Like the banks, who do exactly the same kind of thing, this company is subsidized by the taxpayer, and to pay bonuses of this size for a frankly shoddy service is kicking us in the teeth over and over and over again.

It shows that they hold the people who pay for their subsidies in utter contempt. And there is nothing anyone can do about it. They have it all sorted so why would they care?

It's a lovely feeling, this being all in it together... comradely and warm knowing that life is equally miserable for all and some of the top brass may suffer too... After all, have you tried to live without an under butler, and an upstairs maid?

More seriously government will have to try to get a grip on the flouting of the “all in this together”.

Garden parties, massive bonuses, private jets and helicopters, ministerial cars, despite Cameron’s ban on their use for non essential journeys, etc, etc, are really rankling with people who are being told that for the third year their £150 a week can’t be increased, and in fact their hours may have to be reduced, or they may be made redundant...

....And God help them if they are because there will be someone from the Dept of Work and Pensions at their door within the first half hour telling them that unless they get a job within 2 days their benefit will be stopped.

Photographs: Aston Martin driver Iain Coucher; and pictures associate with Railways and Stations in Britian.


  1. It's obscene bonuses such as these Tris. I just don't understand why union members don't protest and let them get away with it.

  2. Didn’t John Major tell us that subsidies would disappear and that we would get a better run railway if it were in the private sector? And the Tories now want to sell off the high speed rail link as well, doubtless so that can be better run as well! The Tories yard sales of national assets has caused nothing but disaster and resulted in poorer services. The post office is next, God alone knows how that could be made any worse than it already is, but suffice to say if the revenue it takes in has to go to pay vast bonuses and shareholder dividends as well we would all do well to invest in a loft full of pigeons to ensure our first class deliveries.

  3. Morning SR,

    It's difficult to know what the Unions could do, except go on strike (which would cost them money and make them unpopular with the public). It appears that the English Transport minister blokey can't do anything either, and although the rails run through our country, it seems that our transport blokey is powerless too.

    At the end of the day we are at the mercy of people who appear to thing that their week's work should be worth around £25,000 making them somewhere between 25 and 30 times better than the average Brit. Given that we have a third world railway I fail completely so see how they can justify that.

    Until such time as our railways compare with those in say France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, they shouldn't get a halfpenny in bonus... and if they can do better elsewhere, I'm sure that we would happily receive their resignations.

  4. Munguin:

    Everyone says that it is more efficient to have the private sector run these organizations. The management style is better; customers get a better deal, and it saves the taxpayer subsidy.

    Right! You'd think that after about 15 years some of these benefits would have started to filter through to the public. But no. As you say the subsidy is far greater in real terms than it used to be, the service is atrocious, the fares structure so complex that no one has the foggiest idea how it works and more expensive than any other railway in Europe, and probably the world.

    The trains and carriages are old and scruffy compared with the continental equivilent. The underpaid staff are by and large ill-informed and frequently rude.

    Two years ago I went to Bradford; It involved 5 trains for the return journey, 4 of which were late (one by 2 hours due to signals failure...and guess whose responsibility that is).

    (BTW: did you know that if the delay is longer than 1 hour, you are entitled to a free beverage? No, neither did I, and they didn't announce it either, but the buffet car lad was very teed off with his employers and told me, and I told everyone in the carriage!!)

    And for every year of the catastrophe the directors of all the rail companies have creamed off bonuses... and still the trains are late, dirty, overcrowded, and the most expensive in Europe.

    Honestly, the Brits propensity to accept things, which can be seen a stoicism, leaves us with some fat cats pouring dirty water all over us... and laughing in the comfort of their Côte d'Azure villas.

    Try that with the French!

  5. Given they are all likely to be replaced in the near future i am not surprised they took the money......

  6. It has wonderin aboot this use o' the word bonus? Why we we accepted this term fer their pay. If the 'performance-relatit' bit o' their pay-packets are that easy tae acheive, then why are we allowin their use o' the word bonus? It's no a bonus. It's naethin like a bonus. When ah got ma Christmas bonus, at Christmas time, it wis cos ah had scrubbed hard fer it. Thae guys arenae gettin a bonus. They want us tae think they had done somethin tae deserve their money. Like hell they have.

    Dinnae buy intae their keich. Thae obscene figures are their pay-packets topline, naethin mair.

  7. Replaced Niko? For incompetence?

  8. Yeah Sophia, on the basis that bonus must have its origins in the Latin word "bonus" meaning "good".

    Now if anyone can find anything "good" about Railtrack... my experiences have been singularly bad.

    Of course there was no doubt that they would get a bonus. As you say Sophia, it's all part of their salary, but I read that it would have been MORE of a bonus had they reached targets which THEY set for themselves. I imagine that the annual appraisal of these directors would be done by other directors, so the interpretation of "reaching" or "surpassing" these targets would be a fairly introspective sort of thing..

    One of the Latin words for bad is "MALUS" Perhaps it would be more appropriate for the section of their salary that is dependent on them actually doing their jobs.

    A bit of scrubbing would do them no harm.