Furious MPs hit out as Network Rail boss handed gong despite timetable chaos

Posted On: 
9th June 2018

MPs have reacted with fury as the boss of Network Rail was given a CBE amid ongoing chaos on Britain's railways.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling with Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne

Mark Carne, the outgoing chief executive of Network Rail, was handed the prestiguous gong in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for "services to the rail industry".

But it comes as commuters continue to face misery following the introduction of new timetables in the north and south of England last month.

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Hundreds of services have been cancelled across the rail network - which is owned and managed by Network Rail - and commuters have been left struggling to get to work and marooned on rail replacement buses.

A string of MPs have hit out at the honour for the Network Rail boss, who admitted last week that the public sector body's handling of the timetabling changes had "not been good enough and we know it".

Labour's John Mann branded it "one of the most extraordinary rewards for failure".

The Bassetlaw MP fumed: "Can you imagine the anger as commuters read about this on delayed trains and at stations? It is becoming a Monty Python sketch."

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron, whose Westmorland and Lonsdale constituents have been hard hit by the Northern Rail fiasco, said: "Ask anyone who's tried to commute to work on a train recently and they'll tell you rail bosses need a kick up the bottom not a pat on the back."

Meanwhile, Labour's Lisa Nandy branded the award a "total disgrace".

"It makes a complete mockery of the Government's commitment to hold accountable those responsible for the misery on our railways," she said.

The Telegraph reports that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling found out about the honour - which would have been recommended by Department for Transport officials - too late to stop it from going ahead.

A DfT spokesperson said: "While the timing of this announcement is clearly unfortunate given current timetabling issues, that should not detract from the service Mr Carne has performed at the head of one of the country's most important public bodies, nor from his work in improving safety and modernising our rail network."

Mr Carne's Network Rail colleague Sir Peter Hendy meanwhile admitted the timing of the gong was "difficult".

But the chairman added: "It's right he is honoured just before he retires from one of the biggest and most challenging jobs in UK industry and alongside everyone at Network Rail, I congratulate him."