Politicians and passenger groups have reacted angrily after the outgoing boss of Network Rail was appointed a CBE amid continued rail disruption.
Mark Carne was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services to the railway industry.
MP Tim Farron called it a “slap in the face” while one trade union leader said it was like “rewarding the captain of the Titanic for jumping ship”.
Network Rail admitted the “timing is difficult” given the current issues.
Passengers have faced delays and cancellations since a major overhaul of rail timetables took effect on 20 May.
Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has laid some of the blame for recent disruption at Network Rail’s door, saying the organisation had been “very late” in approving the new timetables.
The chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy, said Mr Carne had made a “tremendous contribution” to the UK’s railways over his four-and-a-half years in the role.
Since he was appointed chief executive in January 2014, Mr Carne, a former oil executive, has overseen a large investment programme, including the rebuilding of London Bridge and Birmingham New Street stations and the upgrading of signalling systems, as well as the Crossrail and Thameslink projects.
He announced in February he would leave Network Rail later this year.
Emily Yates, of the Association of British Commuters, called the award a “pantomime”, adding it is “a sign that the rail industry is really out of touch with the real pain and suffering that people are going through”.
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said: “Frustrated passengers will see no honour in that at all.”
Labour’s Lisa Nandy told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight his CBE agreed that “just another kick in the teeth” for rail travellers and should be withdrawn.
She said “there’s absolutely no way that the government should press ahead with this award”.
Meanwhile, Lilian Greenwood, the Labour chair of Parliament’s Transport Select Committee, said rail users would be “incredulous”.
“Passengers will be furious. Their trains aren’t arriving on time, if they arrive at all, but this reward for the top boss turns up even before he’s left his post,” she said.
She said the committee had launched an inquiry to establish who was responsible for the “shambolic” timetable changes but in the meantime “this announcement will add insult to passengers’ injury”.
Ms Greenwood added Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and train operating companies may be “quite glad for somebody else to be in the spotlight”.
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said Mr Carne’s CBE was a “slap in the face to millions of travellers up and down the country” and said he should have turned it down.
He told BBC Breakfast: “This is a moment when our rail leaders do not need pats on the back, they need a kick up the backside.”
Analysis: BBC Transport Correspondent Victoria Fritz
Mark Carne must be used to bad timing. He wasn’t a year into the job before he faced a public lambasting for being on holiday when overrunning engineering works ruined the Christmas plans of thousands of passengers.
He presided over the uncomfortable switch Network Rail made from private to public ownership which also exposed him to criticism over his salary – more than five times that of the prime minister.
Furthermore, since the letter of recommendation for a CBE hit the doormat a few months ago, the East Coast Mainline franchise has collapsed and five other train lines have been brought to their knees with timetable changes.
It is to his credit that Mark Carne remains a popular figure within the industry. He has overseen some of the most ambitious and complicated upgrades to infrastructure anywhere in the world. He has championed safety on the railways and diversity in the workforce.
He has made strides to stamp out zero-hours contracts and is often seen on the front line with track staff.
The Department for Transport said that despite the “unfortunate” timing Mr Carne’s work in “improving safety and modernising our rail network” deserved recognition.
Two other Network Rail employees also received honours.
Ian Stevens has been made an OBE for services to suicide prevention, and Scott Heath is awarded the BEM for services to the LGBT community.
Other business people honoured in the Queen’s Birthday List include:
James Ratcliffe, the UK’s richest man, according to the Sunday Times rich list, and boss of chemicals giant Ineos, for services to business and investment.
Tim Waterstone, founder of the book chain carrying his name, for services to bookselling and charity.
Moya Greene, chief executive of Royal Mail, for services to business and the postal sector.
Thomas Ilube, entrepreneur, for services to technology and philanthropy.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, for services to the social sciences and economics.
Jo Malone, founder of fragrance companies Jo Malone and Jo Loves, for services to the British Economy.
Judy Naake, founder of St Tropez self-tanning products, for services to entrepreneurship, the community and philanthropy
Charlotte Tilbury founder of her eponymous cosmetics brand, for services to the beauty industry.
Keith Tordoff, owner of the Oldest Sweet Shop in England in Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire, for services to the community.
Article Source : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44415339