The man in charge of Southern Rail was paid almost £500,000 despite the service being crippled by strikes and tumbling profits.

Charles Horton, chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), pocketed £495,000 in the last financial year, figures revealed.

He was paid £478,000 by GTR and received a further £17,000 from Southern Railway Limited.

Read more: Southern strike by RMT to go ahead tomorrow

News of his pay comes amid a bitter dispute between the franchise and transport unions over driver-only operated trains, which disrupted journeys for millions of passengers.

As well as the embattled operator routinely ranking lowest in customer satisfaction polls, its parent company also suffered a profit slump of more than £15million in the last year.

The chaos that has engulfed Southern, characterised by 31 strikes since April last year, resulted in repeated apologies from Go-Ahead, which owns GTR.

Mr Horton received his increased packet despite Go-Ahead’s chief executive David Brown having refused to be considered for an annual bonus and a pay increase in September, citing the ongoing crisis.

He was previously paid £493,000 in 2015. Of this £230,000 was paid by Southern Rail, which operated as a separate entity in GTR, in the first six months of the year.

He was then paid £263,000 in the second half of the year after Southern became part of the parent company.

A spokesman for Southern Rail said: “As a matter of policy we do not discuss the remuneration of any of our employees.”