FirstGroup chief executive Tim O’Toole has said the industry will work with Jeremy Corbyn – in the event of the Labour Party leader becoming prime minister – to “come to some sort of sensible arrangement” for running Britain’s railways.
Mr Corbyn proposes renationalising the network and it is just a few weeks since Mr O’Toole said his plans for rail “didn’t stack up”.
Speaking after Aberdeen-based FirstGroup’s annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday, Mr O’Toole said: “I think our response would be, along with the rest of the industry, to make sure everyone understands what the value (of UK rail) is and what we can do to help. Everyone should be motivated to do what is best for the public purse and the travelling public.”
The railways will still need operators, however they are run, he added,
Mr O’Toole also defended a controversial decision over his annual bonus.
FirstGroup had potentially faced a troublesome AGM after shareholder advisory group Pirc urged investors to vote down bosses’ pay deals.
The move came after the firm said “it would not be appropriate” to give Mr O’Toole an automatic annual bonus – either in cash or deferred shares – after a fatal tram crash in Croydon last year.
But the bus and rail giant also said Mr O’Toole could still receive shares worth £723,415, equivalent to the performance-related bonus he would have received, pending the outcome of the ongoing tram incident investigation.
Pirc objected to the potential award of shares at a later date and criticised FirstGroup for paying its boss 35 times more than its average employee, but the threatened shareholder revolt failed to materialise.
“I recommended that going along with this (bonus) was not the right idea,” Mr O’Toole said.