Network Rail said former Shell executive Mark Carne would succeed Sir David Higgins and will take over on April 1 next year, as chief executive.
The company said father-of-three Mr Carne would be on a basic annual salary of £675,000, £100,000 more than his predecessor.
Network Rail has faced constant criticism recently over train punctuality, with repeated warnings by rail regulators about its performance, particularly on long-distance routes.
– Network Rail
Mr Carne's base salary of £675,000 was determined following an exhaustive and independent process which compared the salaries of chief executives in both the public and private sectors given Network Rail's unique position as a not-for-dividend, independent company.
The review concluded that the proposed salary reflected that unique status placing, as it does, the chief executive's salary at a point between the two sectors.
Mr Carne will not take any potential annual incentive payment for 2013/14.