When I Grow Up I Want To Work For The Railways – Public Sector Salaries

So, you two, what are your New Years’ Resolutions?

We want to work on the railways, Daddy.

Well, you twins are eleven this year, I suppose you do need to start thinking about your careers. So, do you want to be train drivers? Or run the control room maybe?

Don’t be silly Daddy, that’s not where the money is. Oliver and I want to be senior executives. We’re not really bothered what we do, as long as we make lots of money.

I see! But what made you think of the railways as a route to getting rich, Sophie?

We saw the list of top civil service salaries that came out just before Christmas. Look! Here’s our spreadsheet. We’ve put the people in salary rank order.

Gosh, that is interesting.

Yes, you can see – 7 of the top 10 salaries are people who work for Network Rail. The other three in the top ten are from High Speed Two - also rail of course. 16 of the top 26 are Network Rail. Mark Carne, their top man, makes £745,000. Mark Thurston from HS2 gets £600,000. Francesco Paonessa is on £480,000 …

Yes, yes, I get the message! I must admit I hadn’t realised it was quite so lucrative on the railways.  But these people must all be top, world-class engineers and Oliver, you’re not really into maths and science – I can see Sophie as an engineer maybe, but not you.

Don’t be silly, Dad, you don’t need to be an engineer to rake in the cash. Look, the Network Rail Director of Corporate Communications is on £270,000!

So, it is not just those people who Network Rail might claim are highly skilled, specialist and technical who are on these big salaries?

No, it looks like whatever you do, the gravy train is well and truly running.

That’s very witty Oliver, perhaps you will make it in communications!  I mean, I can’t see that being comms head for Network Rail is a bigger job than doing the same thing for the NHS for instance. And their equivalent is probably on half that.

Yes Dad, and what is amazing is that 40 people in Network Rail earn more than – for instance – the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.

And it is not as if Network Rail is working in a cut-throat competitive industry – it has a monopoly. It doesn’t have to worry about many of the things that private sector people do, such as rival firms, winning new business, finding customers … I mean, Network Rail doesn’t even run the trains. It does make you wonder how much the managers in the train operating companies are making as well, mind you.

You’ve got it Dad. That’s why we think it sounds like a lovely job – the best bits of the public and private sector combined. No competition – but lots of money!

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