Fret SNCF is preparing to face a difficult year

A freight locomotive at Thionville station (Moselle). (JULIO PELAEZ / MAXPPP)

“Fret SNCF should be able to pass the course but will have to reduce the wing”. A short sentence that says a lot, spoken bluntly by the president of this subsidiary, Frédéric Delorme, in an interview with Agence France Presse. Last year, Fret SNCF recorded a drop of just over 20% in its turnover. Since the first containment, activity has not returned to its normal level and after a quick survey of customers, this year should be of the same ilk. We must react, Frédéric Delorme has just ignited the counter-fire.

Without making too quick a shortcut, we can say that the SNCF subsidiary is facing the same problem as Michelin, which announced this week the elimination of 2,300 jobs in France, without redundancies. Faced with grim prospects, in order not to lose competitiveness, the production tool must be adapted. And then the Covid-19 crisis was added to the strike of the railway workers against the pension reform.

Notable difference: Michelin is a private company, Fret SNCF belongs to a public group, supported by the State almost until “quoi what it costs “. In his interview with AFP, the boss of the public company made it clear: Fret SNCF will have to adapt, in particular by reducing its workforce, but there will be no departure plan or social plan. This will be done by a transfer of a little more than 400 employees out of 5,300, including a hundred drivers, to other activities of the SNCF, in addition to retirements. Structural savings will be added with the sale of real estate and a hundred surplus locomotives in the face of the decline in activity. Michelin (private), Fret SNCF (public)… In both cases, competitiveness plans. A word that we are likely to hear insistently in the coming months.

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