The government opens a new front by supporting the spin-off of Fret SNCF


As members prepare to vote for a new railway pact, this measure is likely to offend the unions of the national airline.
During the strike, the railway reform train does not stop. After opening to competition from transport of passengers, the end of the status of railway workers or the incentives of the SNCF at meet again its organization, which must seal by the vote, Tuesday, April 17, the law for a new railway pact in the National Assembly, the government is decided to treat rail freight. But the unions do not necessarily appreciate his choices.
Monday, April 16, visiting the port of Bonneuil-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne), Prime Minister Edouard Philippe officially asked Elisabeth Borne, Minister of transport network , a new support plan for the freight sector. As for the public railway group, it has, at the same time, presented its plan for the relaunch of Fret SNCF, which involves its subsidiary by 2020.
In a statement, the public company is considering “A recapitalization, necessary for sustain the activity of the public reference operator. ” Technically, SNCF Mobility s should endow its own legal personality, its SNCF freight branch. This new company would be wholly owned by the railway group. ” In one context of intense competition, this would guarantee the future of the public reference operator and function according to economic and financial market rules » , we judge at the SNCF.
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For employees, the public company guarantees “The continuity of the contracts of job , whether for statutory employees or contractual employees. A frame social on the trades, the organization of work and the careers will be negotiated. ” The SNCF, supported by the government, validates the worst scenario for trade unions, which have been fighting for years against this solution. Not only is the company unit down, but “This ultimately condemns the railway workers to the status for the benefit of the employees of private law within the freight” , judge SUD-Rail. SNCF benefits from the announced end of recruitment to the status for moving forward on this reform.
Still, the public group did not really have many other options. In December 2017, Elisabeth Borne had to endorse after a long legal battle with Brussels, an accounting separation of freight activity from the other branches of the rail group. However, Fret SNCF is suffering. He experienced the full industrial crisis of the country and the opening to competition of his sector.
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Despite its recapitalization of 1.4 billion euros by the State and the SNCF in 2005, this branch has still not generated a single euro for thirteen years. On the contrary, Fret SNCF has accumulated 4.3 billion euros in debt, of which another 120 million euros in 2017. All, reducing from 15,000 to 6,000 railway workers its workforce …
In order to help Fret SNCF, “SNCF Mobility s will retain all the accumulated debt, ie € 4.3 billion, and will have to recapitalize the new structure by € 200 million to € 300 million to ensure that it can live all alone ” , says a connoisseur of the file. The negotiations will now open between the national society, the State and the European Commission for make validate this scheme. Against such help at its new subsidiary, Brussels could require disposals of SNCF group assets or other commitments.
In parallel, the government is preparing to take a series of measures in favor of freight. Elisabeth Borne must make proposals for improving the facilities devoted to this activity and “Securing quality train paths for freight”. Finally, the Minister will find a mechanism for moderate toll increases. For that, she is going duty begins a real test of strength with both the European Commission and the Authority for the regulation of rail and road activities (Arafer) which impose a significant increase in these tolls, currently too low for SNCF Réseau. “The problem is that by increasing the tolls, you kill the freight because it loses a lot of competitiveness against the truck transport,” an observer notes.


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