Sunday, November 1

Jean-Pierre Farandou, chief railway worker in the Covid storm


He was the man we weren’t expecting. Surprise winner of the race to succeed Guillaume Pepy after more than ten years of reign, Jean-Pierre Farandou, then boss of Keolis, took the 1er November 2019, the reins of SNCF at 62 years old. It was a year ago. In other words, a century ago, the maelstrom of the crisis has since disrupted the national landscape.

Because to take stock of the first year of the new boss of the public rail group, it is first of all to tell the daily life of a CEO transformed into a permanent firefighter. The crises he did not trigger have followed the crises for which he is not responsible. And they ended up imposing their hellish calendar.

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It was immediately, in November, the consequences of a national right of withdrawal of personnel linked to a railway accident, symptomatic incident of a mistrust of the railway workers towards the previous management. It was very quickly then, in December-January, a paralyzing strike against the pension reform. Finally, in March, there was the unparalleled shock of the coronavirus and its upheavals: confinement, special medical TGVs, half-empty trains by order of the State, attendance still below the profitability line and a disaster. financial for SNCF, assessed for the time being at losses amounting to 4 billion euros.

“A blank year”

“It’s a blank year, difficult to judge a boss over this very special period”, explains Laurent Brun, secretary general of CGT Cheminots, the company’s first union. “It is customary to say that a mandate is evaluated over the first hundred days, but Jean-Pierre Farandou has never had a hundred days before him to conduct his policy” analysis Florent Monteilhet, Deputy Secretary General of the UNSA Ferroviaire (second union).

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“Despite everything, the company is standing, we say in the entourage of the boss. There is a pilot on the train and, in the midst of the trouble, he didn’t curl up. He launched an “Tous SNCF” business plan, continued to favor unity and dialogue. No right of withdrawal linked to Covid has been triggered since the start of the health crisis. “

“SNCF is doing quite well in terms of image, believes Gilles Dansart, founder of the specialized site Mobilettre and recognized expert in the sector. Two decisions saved the day: the cancellation-refund of tickets without conditions and the maintenance of a consistent train offer. ” Strong choices, imposed against the advice of some of the sales teams, by Christophe Fanichet, CEO of the SNCF Voyageurs subsidiary, one of Mr. Farandou’s trusted men.

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