By Jason Theodorou

The bosses of Network Rail have seen six figure bonuses approved, despite vocal criticism from Prime Minister David Cameron and unions.

Iain Coucher, the chief executive now on his way out, will receive £641,000. Performance-relate bonuses amounted to £2.25 million for the top directors. A spokeswoman for Number 10 said that Mr. Cameron was ‘deeply disappointed’ at the decision.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond has written to the rail body urging them to be moderate in payouts to NR’s ‘handsomely rewarded’ directors, in the wake of the Office of Rail Regulation’s report on the company which said that its performance had been ‘mixed’.

While Network Rail is a private company, it is subsidised by the government. The company’s ruling body comprises two sets of members - representatives of train operators, and public members representing the interests of stakeholders.

Gerry Doherty, head of the TSSA union, suggested that there was a ‘moral victory’ in the news that less than 50% of public members had voted in favour of the bonuses.

Mr. Doherty said: ’These people have no concept of public morality or service. Their snouts are so deep in the trough that they treat the taxpayer and passenger with complete contempt’. He accused NR directors of ‘blackmailing’ public members, who the directors had allegedly promised to keep in place in a restructured company if the bonuses were approved.

The RMT union said that it would fight job losses and service reductions, and fight to dismantle NR. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: ‘The NR annual general meeting assembles at a time of great danger for the railways in this country.

If reductions on the scale being projected are forced on the transport budget we have no doubt that it will mean thousands of job losses and catastrophic cuts to rail infrastructure and operations with lethal consequences’.

Mr. Crow has argued that if NR were sold off, the public would be laboured with ‘Railtrack mark two’, pointing to the organisation which NR replaced in 2002.

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