Rail watchdog gets huge pay rise from ministry
Metro: By John Higginson, 25 March 2012
The boss of an independent rail watchdog has been awarded a 25 per cent pay rise by the government department he is paid to scrutinise.
Anthony Smith’s salary as chief executive of Passenger Focus has risen from £95,000 in 2008 to £122,000 last year.
He now earns more than the £69,000 salary transport secretary Justine Greening is paid and almost as much as she gets when her £65,000 MP’s salary is included.
Despite claiming to be independent, the bulk of Passenger Focus’s £6.4million budget last year came from Ms Greening’s department.
Critics say there is a conflict of interest because the group was previously funded by a rail regulator.
Next year, with an almost 50 per cent cut in funding from the DfT to £3.8million, Passenger Focus has cut its 60-strong workforce by a third rather than reduce the salary of its chief executive.
When earlier this month it was revealed that train operating companies were failing to meet punctuality targets of 92 per cent, Mr Smith told Metro the target should be lowered.
‘Hearing that these targets will not be met is disappointing and underlines that realistic targets that passengers can rely on must be set in the future,’ he said.
In December, when passengers learned they were to face an average fare rise of 5.9 per cent with some facing double-digit rises Mr Smith said: ‘It could have been a lot worse.’
Mr Smith denied being influenced by the Department for Transport.
‘At no time during our sponsorship by DfT have they ever tried to control what we do or say,’ he told Metro.