The decision to bestow a royal honour on the Network Rail boss against a backdrop of huge disruption for train passengers in recent weeks has been criticised.
Mark Carne receives a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, on a list that also sees Liverpool football great Kenny Dalglish knighted and Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson made a dame.
The Department for Transport admitted the timing of the announcement of the outgoing chief executive's award for services to the rail industry following timetabling issues is "unfortunate" but added that recent problems should not detract from his overall service.
But one union boss likened the timing of the honour to "rewarding the captain of the Titanic for jumping ship".
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: "Frustrated passengers will see no honour in that at all."