Mark Carne to retire from Network Rail

Mark Carne, the chief executive of Network Rail, is to leave the organisation later this year after four years at the helm, he has announced today. The timing of the announcement will allow for a new chief executive to join before the start of the next five-year regulatory control period in April next year.

Carne joined Network Rail in January 2014 and during his time as chief executive, he steered the company through the period of being reclassified into the public sector and piloted the significant rebasing of the delivery plan that was required following the change in the company's debt structure. He has led a transformational change in Network Rail, which has now been reflected in the whole regulatory structure of the industry, while delivering the biggest projects in the history of the company, such as London Bridge station, which opened on schedule last month, and Birmingham New Street station in 2015.

As recently as January this year, there were rumours that Carne was under pressure in Whitehall to step down, amid frustration about the slow pace of change on the rail network and criticism of his £820,000 pay package. 

Commenting on his decision to retire, Carne said: “Britain's railways matter to the lives of millions of people.  The men and women who run the railway are enormously committed and it has been a privilege to lead the organisation at a time of huge investment and transformational change. 

“I planned the timing of my announcement so there was stability while we developed the business plan for the next five-year regulatory period, but so that there will also enough time for my successor to be firmly in place when it starts. I will leave knowing that the railway is in good hands and has a great plan for the future.”

Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, said: “Mark has done an outstanding job and I want to applaud him for what he has achieved in his time at Network Rail. His leadership steadied the ship during the challenging transition to a public sector organisation and he has been the architect behind the huge positive changes in the company, driving transformation, devolution and efficiency, with an emphasis on equality and diversity too. 

“Three years ago he set out a strategic vision for a digital railway transformation which is now becoming a reality in our plans. Throughout this he has maintained a determined focus on delivering the biggest upgrades to the railway in a hundred years. Perhaps his biggest legacy, however, is the change in safety culture that he has very personally led and which has done so much to make the railway and our workforce safer.”

Hendy said that Carne will submit the strategic business plan for the next control period and lead the discussions with the regulator. “The timing of his decision also ensures that a new chief executive will have time to get their feet under the table before the next regulatory period starts,” Hendy said. “Although we understand and respect his decision, we are all delighted that Mark will continue to lead the company while the board appoints his successor, and that the planned timing and transition will leave him in charge as we finalise the next control period plan and funding,” he said.

Chris Grayling, secretary of state for transport said: “Mark’s focus on devolving power to Network Rail’s route businesses has built the foundations for a more efficient and passenger-focussed organisation which supports the government’s agenda to bring track and train closer together. Mark will of course continue to provide great leadership for Network Rail until he steps down in the summer, and I hope he will continue to play an important part in the transport sector in the future.”

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