THE MAN responsible for one of the worst records in the rail industry has been picked by the government to head the Strategic Rail Authority. The appointment of Virgin Rail boss Richard Bowker is incredible, even by New Labour's standards.
Bowker is to get the £500,000 a year job to head the Rail Authority, which will choose the directors of the company the government wants to set up to replace Railtrack. He was hand-picked for the job by transport secretary Stephen Byers.
Bowker is co-chairman of Virgin Rail, which runs trains on the West Coast Main Line and Cross Country in the Midlands. The firm has one of the worst records for punctuality and service in the entire industry.
Bowker's other great achievement at Virgin was to more than double most standard fares, pushing ordinary returns from London to Manchester to £150. Bowker plans to increase track access charges and push companies to increase fares.