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Delude Retreat Indemnify Prevaricate Squander

Figure of speech

Whatever happens with Network Rail's proposed redundancies, one thing was striking about Iain Coucher's recent appearance before the Transport Select Committee - his choice of terminology. From time to time, he made reference to "taking heads out" or variations on that theme.

For Network Rail bosses, is it all about the balance sheet?

"Over the next five years we will be taking out heads where we can", "we have to take heads at our organisation to meet the efficiency challenge", "let me give you some...examples about the head cuts that we are taking out".

His tone suggests indifference, giving the impression of a dispassionate accountant with no cause to see beyond the figures on his sheet. In that context, trackworkers just become another entry on the stock list - if you do less work, you need fewer of them.

...trackworkers just become another entry on the stock sheet - if you do less work, you need fewer of them.

Of course, that's what this process is all about - the simple business of balancing the books, driven by the ORR's rabid determination to cut costs at all costs. Who cares about the maintenance regime or the personal blight? There's no room for such trivia in this climate.

You'd think though, on a salary of over £600K with a healthy bonus package, Iain Coucher would have the nous to speak with more humanity when discussing plans that will cast a long shadow over Christmas for many of those out on track whilst he's sipping his Clicquot. Perhaps that kind of detachment comes with the financial security of the board room.

Story from The Safety Valve, added 1st December 2009

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