Sir David Higgins (Reuters)
Sir David Higgins (Reuters)

Chief executive of Network Rail Sir David Higgins has waived his rights to a bonus and has revealed the money will go on improving rail safety.

In a statement, Higgins announced that he and his directors have decided to waive their entitlement for a bonus and instead allocate the alleged £340,000 bonus money to improving safety at level crossings.

The move comes after the company admitted to being at fault for the deaths of teenagers Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson at a level crossing in Elsenham station, Essex, in 2005.

There has been growing pressure for Higgins and his directors to waive their bonuses in the wake of the row over bonuses for banking staff.

Pressure for Higgins to give up his bonus grew after Transport Secretary Justine Greening revealed plans to take the unprecedented step to attend the annual meeting on Friday and vote against the planned bonuses fro top executives.

"I and my directors decided last week that we would forego any entitlement and instead allocate the money to the safety improvement fund for level crossing," said Higgins.

"I can confirm that remains our intention."

Higgins and six other directors were due eligible to receive up to 60 percent of their annual salaries in one-off performance-related bonuses.

National Rail said in a statement: "The board of Network Rail has decided to recommend to its members that this Friday's meeting be adjourned. The board will take the opportunity to reflect further on how to incentivise performance in the company against the backdrop of the current context.

"Friday's meeting was not to approve a specific annual bonus payment for executive directors, but rather to amend a previously-approved long-term incentive scheme to ensure additional external scrutiny of performance," said Network Rail chairman Rick Haythornthwaite.