UK’s highest-paid civil servant stands down after government pressure to accept less money

The chief executive of Network Rail is to quit after government pressure to turn down a possible £600,000 bonus.

Network Rail today said that Iain Coucher’s resignation was for personal reasons. However, Bob Crow, union leader of rail union RMT said Coucher presided over a culture that had attacked jobs, working conditions and safety while his salary and perks had “gone through the roof”.

Coucher’s £613,000 a year salary is believed to be the public sector’s highest and his pay is likely to double when Network Rail announces its bonuses this month. Coucher came under scrutiny earlier this month when the government released details of the highest public sector salaries but made clear that he would not give up all or part of his bonus. Last year he turned down his bonus but received an extra £150,000 as part of an incentive scheme.

Coucher has worked for Network Rail eight years and has been chief executive for the last three. He will remain in post until a successor is found.