Queen’s honors sidetracked by row over rail boss award

A row over the running of Britain’s railways spilled over into Queen Elizabeth’s annual birthday honors on Saturday as Network Rail’s outgoing boss was decorated in a list which included actress Emma Thompson and novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne was made CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) drawing criticism from politicians and rail users after recent travel chaos.

Trains in some areas of Britain have been subject to weeks of delays and cancellations after a timetable change which has been partly blamed on Carne’s Network Rail.

“Clearly the timing of this award is difficult given current industry issues and their effects on passengers, but we should take a step back and look at Mark’s whole career,” Network Rail’s chairman Peter Hendy said in a statement.

The biannual honors pay tribute to those who have contributed to British life in the arts, sciences or public service, and included an award for 103-year old Rosemary Powell, a volunteer for the Royal British Legion for 97 years.

Actress Thompson and classicist Mary Beard, a professor at the University of Cambridge, were made dames while Ishiguro, the author of “The Remains of the Day” received a knighthood, as did Kenny Dalglish, for services to soccer and charity.

Dalglish, 67, won three European Cups and six league titles as a Liverpool player and then managed the club in two spells. He was also recognized for his work in supporting the victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

Such honors have been awarded since Queen Victoria’s reign and aim to recognize not just well-known figures but those who have contributed to national life through often selfless and unsung contributions over many years.

Ber Helfgott was knighted for using his public profile as a Holocaust survivor to encourage community cohesion and combat intolerance, while Frances Carolyn Saunders was given a damehood for attracting young people from diverse backgrounds into engineering.


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