Iain Coucher

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Iain Coucher
Born (1961-08-22) 22 August 1961 (age 60)
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Residence Daventry, Northamptonshire
Nationality British
Occupation Rail transport infrastructure manager
Known for Deputy Chief Executive, Network Rail (2002–2007)
Chief executive, Network Rail (2007–2010)

Iain Michael Coucher (born 22 August 1961, St Albans, Hertfordshire) is a British businessman and consultant in the railway industry. He has held a number of management posts, most notably serving as the chief executive of Network Rail from 2007 to 2010.

Early life

Coucher was born on 22 August 1961 in St Albans, Hertfordshire. He was brought up in Doncaster and Leeds, where his father, Brian, worked for the electricity generating board. He originally wanted to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force.

He was educated at Ashville College, an independent boarding school in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. He boarded in Windermere House – part of Mallinson. Coucher was a good tennis player and represented the school tennis team.

After leaving Ashville in 1979, he attended Imperial College London where he studied Aeronautical engineering. He graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc).[1] Later he completed an Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Henley Management College (now called Henley Business School and part of the University of Reading).


He started his working life as an air-to-ground missile designer for Hunting Engineering from 1982 (since 2001 known as INSYS), before moving into IT services with the American consultancy group EDS[2] in 1985 which led to working on the Oyster card. In 1999 he formed a transport consultancy, Coucher Pender Ltd, in partnership with a colleague Victoria Pender. Through the consultancy, they provided freelance management services to Tube Lines, one of the infrastructure maintenance companies under the London Underground public-private partnership, with Coucher serving as Tube Lines' Chief Executive from 1999–2001.[3]

Network Rail

Coucher Pender Ltd also provided consultancy for the creation of the railway infrastructure company Network Rail following the collapse of Railtrack in 2002. Coucher was made Deputy Chief Executive of Network Rail in 2002, stepping up to the role of Chief Executive in July 2007 following the retirement of Chief Executive John Armitt.

Network Rail paid Coucher an annual salary of £613,000.[4] It has been estimated that, during the eight years he worked at the company, Coucher received more than £7million in pay and bonuses.[5]

Coucher announced on 17 June 2010 that he would step down as Chief Executive of Network Rail stating that this was for personal reasons. He remained in situ while his successor was sought. Coucher officially left Network Rail on 29 October 2010, accepting a payment from the company of £1.6 million. The payment was criticised in the media by the then Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond and trade union leaders.[5] Coucher's successor, David Higgins, started on 1 February 2011.[6]

Coucher was the subject of controversy regarding his management techniques following allegations in the media by the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association about bullying of Network Rail staff and financial impropriety involving Victoria Pender. An internal examination in 2010 by Network Rail cleared Coucher of any wrongdoing. An independent enquiry headed by Anthony White QC in 2011 further examined the claims, but also exonerated Coucher.[7][8][9]

Personal life

Married with a son (born February 1995) and daughter (born June 1998), Coucher lives in Daventry, Northamptonshire and lists his car as an Aston Martin DB9. He married Tanya Nightingale in July 1993 in North Yorkshire Executive. He was previously married. He enjoys cycling and birdwatching and owns a country house and 173-acre estate by Loch Sween on the Sound of Jura in Scotland which he has named "Iainland".[10]


  1. Andy Milne talks to Iain Coucher 18 January 2006, www.railwaypeople.com
  2. Peddling the railways 22 July 2007 , interview:Andrew Davidson , business.timesonline.co.uk
  3. Wolmar, Christian (5 July 2010). "Coucher departure suggests acrimony at NR". Retrieved 9 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Executive Directors' reward package" (PDF). Network Rail Infrastructure Limited Annual Report and Accounts 2009. Network Rail. 31 March 2009. p. 30. Retrieved 16 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Massey, Ray (24 June 2011). "Aston Martin-driving rail chief gets £1.6m reward for failure". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 8 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/10309.aspx
  7. Hough, Andrew (28 January 2011). "Network Rail: inquiry launched into 'misuse of public funds and illicit payments'". The Daily Telegraph. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1dcf5bba-d6fe-11df-aaab-00144feabdc0,s01=1.html#axzz1E7DUYExM
  9. Milmo, Dan (23 May 2011). "Iain Coucher set to be cleared of misusing Network Rail funds". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Cohen, Nick (31 January 2010). "It's all aboard the gravy train for Network Rail bosses". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Other sources