Exposed: Whitehall scandal of DfT officials

18 June 2018

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling – nicknamed Failing Grayling by fed-up cabinet colleagues – is already on the rack for the mess the privatised train operating companies have made of new timetables – brought in on 20 May – and the subsequent chaos on Britain’s railway network. He and his top civil servants at the Department for Transport are under pressure from MPs and passengers for not getting a grip of the situation.


Now we can reveal that 16 of this country’s 20 highest paid civil servants and senior officials operate under the DfT – and the top ten on the list all work in the rail industry.


That’s right. The people responsible for the mistakes, failures and chaos on Britain’s railways are the best-paid officials in Britain. The revelation, which comes hot on the heels of the uproar over the award of a CBE ‘for failure’ to Mark Carne and Ian Prosser, is another severe embarrassment for the Transport Secretary.


Figures for senior civil service salaries published by the cabinet office show that Carne, the outgoing chief executive of Network Rail, is paid a whopping £750,000 a year – that’s £600,000 more than the Prime Minister – while Mark Thurston, chief executive of High Speed 2, takes home £600,000 and Francesco Paonessa, managing director, Network Rail, picks up £485,000.


Philip Hufton, managing director, England & Wales, Network Rail, gets £480,000; Graham Hopkins, group safety, technical and engineering director, Network Rail, £475,000; Steve Allen, chief financial officer, HS2, £420,000; Jim Crawford, phase one managing director, HS2, £405,000; Jeremy Westlake, chief financial officer, Network Rail, £390,000; David Waboso, managing director, group digital railway, Network Rail, £385,000; and Peter Hendy, chair, Network Rail £380,00.


In fact, roles that report to Failing Grayling at the DfT account for 36 of the top 50 salaries on the list. David Peattie, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, who gets £370,000, is the highest-paid non-DfT staffer on the list.


Prime Minister Theresa May earns £150,000 while Jeremy Heywood, the country’s top civil servant as cabinet secretary and head of the civil service, earns £200,000.


Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said: ‘These figures, which show that the ten best paid public sector officials in Britain all work in the rail industry, will shock many people. It’s not just the scale of the rewards from the public purse – which dwarf what most hard-working men and women earn each year – it’s the fact that they are being paid over the odds for failure, not for success.’


Andy McDonald, Shadow Transport Secretary, said: ‘This government’s catastrophic rail policy is threatening the very integrity of the rail industry as well as future funding and growth. Following the news that so many of the highest paid civil servants work directly in rail, taxpayers and passengers will rightly ask if they are getting what they pay for.’

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