Coucher was with NR for eight years, including three years as chief executive, and will assist chairman Mr Rick Haythornthwaite in the search for a successor after the company's board agreed that now is the right time for a change of leadership.
"Leading the thousands of dedicated railwaymen and women that make up this company has been the greatest privilege of my professional life," Coucher said. "I know that under the management team we have in place and under a new chief executive, they will continue to go from strength to strength."

Coucher was instrumental in establishing Network Rail following the demise of Railtrack in 2002 overseeing widespread improvements in network performance. He has, however, been in the headlines recently following speculation that the company's top executives will receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses in addition to their high salaries despite pressure on public spending. Coucher recently said that he was worth every penny of his £600,000 annual salary.

iain_coucher.jpgHis decision to resign also follows recent announcements by Britain's new coalition government that funding for major infrastructure projects is likely to be scaled back in addition to a five-year cost savings target of 21%. NR is currently one year into a five-year financial settlement, with negotiations set to begin shortly on what is expected to be a reduced settlement for 2014-2019.