Company chief executives have pocketed another series of hefty pay rises.

Travel companies National Express and Arriva, who both run subsidised bus and train services, defended the pay packages of their chief executives which soared through the £1 million mark last year.

National Express's chief executive Phil White received £991,000 from salary, bonuses and company payments into his pension in 2004. This was also boosted by cashing in share options worth £44,000.

Central Trains is one of four National Express train franchises to be subsidised. The company holds eight franchises in total.

A spokeswoman for the firm, which also owns Travel West Midlands, defended Mr White's pay rise as " competitive" and "in-line with similar companies".

She said: "Phil's salary reflects the scale of the business. We are an international firm and Phil is responsible for around 40,000 employees.

"With regards to subsidies, they are just a part of the business that we are in.

"They are not something within our control and are allocated as the Government sees fit.

"It is a fact of life that certain services will be subsidised but this does not mean we don't invest in them."

A similar statement was issued by travel group Arriva whose chief executive, Bob Davies saw his salary, bonuses and perks rise to £894,000.

Mr Davies also benefited from cashing share options worth £315,000.

Sunderland-based Arriva runs bus operations into Birmingham from Tamworth, Burton-upon-Trent, Lichfield, Sutton Coldfield and Kingstanding.

A spokeswoman for the company said: "The majority of our subsidies occur in London where we employ around 4,000 members of staff.

"The areas of our business outside the capital mostly operate without subsidy."

With regards to Mr Davies pay, the group issued a statement saying that management remuneration reflected the group's position as a "major transport services organisation".

Outside the transport sector steel group Corus announced a bumper 19 per cent pay rise for its chief executive Philippe Varin.

Mr Varin received total pay and benefits of £1.43 million in 2004 against £1.2 million in

2003. This included basic pay of £712,123 and a £414,282 annual bonus.

Mr Varin also received taxable benefits of £271,514 and a relocation package of £35,925 to help him move to the UK.

The world's largest maker of beverage cans, Rexam also revealed that former chief executive Stefan Angwald received £1.37 million for just five month's work.

Mr Angwald, who was fired in October just five months after being appointed to the post, received a salary of £564,000.

On top of that he was paid £230,000 for loss of office, a £237,000 bonus and £337,000 of pension and other benefits.

The company said at the time of his departure it would continue to pay his £550,000 annual salary until such time as he found alternative employment.