MP calls for block on Network Rail bonuses

Four-year-old Emma Lifsey, who has tragically died after the car she was travelling in was hit by a train.
Four-year-old Emma Lifsey, who has tragically died after the car she was travelling in was hit by a train.
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Calling for a block on cash bonuses for Network Rail executives is MP John Mann.

The move follows a number of deaths on level crossings, and this month’s damning House of Commons Transport Select Committee Inquiry Report which found that Network Rail had showed a “callous disregard” to the families of those killed on rail crossings.

Among those deaths was four-year-old Emma Lifsey of Haxey who was killed when the car she was travelling in was hit by a train at Beech Hill Crossing at Misson, on December 4, due to dim warning lights.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch said the red warning lights, known as wig-wags, were old and could not be seen against bright sun on a wet road.

Network Rail’s public members were due to meet in London yesterday (Wednesday) to consider the bonuses, which if approved will see three executives paid a total of £900,000 next week.

John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, said: “It would be completely unacceptable for Network Rail executives to be paid huge bonuses just a few weeks after they were heavily criticised by Parliament for their attitude to the families of those who have died on level crossings.”

“I called for a parliamentary inquiry into Network Rail following a young girl’s death in Bassetlaw in 2012 because it was clear that hundreds of crossings throughout the country were unsafe, and Network Rail was failing to deal with the problem.

“I am now calling on Network Rail’s shareholders to cancel all bonuses given to their executives this year, and indeed every year until safety is substantially improved.

“It would be unacceptable, for example, for the executive in overall charge of safety for the past decade, Robin Gisby, to be paid a £300,000 bonus for simply remaining in post despite this catalogue of failure over level crossing safety. Taxpayers’ money cannot wasted in this way.”

A Rail Accident Investigation Branch report published in September 2013 stated that the lights on the crossing on which Emma Lifsey died were “of an obsolete design that also did not meet the specification.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry for the terrible accidents which have taken place on level crossings, including at Bassetlaw, and what families of those involved have since been through.

“We continue to make important changes to the way we manage safety at level crossings to reduce the level of risk to the public further still. In 2012, Network Rail’s executive directors decided to waive any entitlement to an annual bonus and instead put any monies into our level crossing safety improvement fund.

“Network Rail senior executives are rewarded only when exceptional performance exceeds tough targets which have been approved by our members through an open and transparent process. If targets are not met, or safety compromised, no bonuses are paid.”

Network Rail currently manages 6,500 level crossings on the commercial rail network.