June 5, 2012 4:52 AM
Sixty-one years, Louis Gallois holds an absolute record for longevity at the head of the SNCF: nine years. The son of a Catholic insurer of Montauban, he was raised in a strict environment which shapes his sense of duty and discipline. Leaving from HEC, he integrates the ENA, where it is overtaken by the policy. It is committed to the Socialist Party alongside Jean-Pierre Chevenement, that he then joined the Government to direct his cabinet to the research and industry. "I me to have separated to regret in 1982 to give the General Direction of the industry", remembers the former Minister. "There was at the time of huge files of industrial restructuring." Louis Gallois to forge a reputation for man of the impossible missions, Rectifier of companies.
Aviation has been his great passion. In command of Aerospatiale, he was able to lead one of the heavier restructuring of the sector, without turbulence. "1993, it is the worst year of the aviation industry since its origins." For Airbus, this year, not only it has not sold a single plane, but in net, it has been 31 cancellations of orders. It is a year of crisis very deep (...) There has been reduction of employment, but we have limited case, and especially we preserved the tool. When I see the performance of Airbus today, I am pleased to have made my small stone building.
When Alain Juppe it is called, a morning of July 1996, to offer him to take the direction of the SNCF, Louis Gallois said that he still has work to do in Aerospatiale. "Well I tried to propose a few names, but it didn't work." Alain Juppe did play the rope of friendship (...) Then I come with my assistant. What strikes me is the extraordinary complexity of railway. There are 13,000 trains circulating on the network, it is complexity without a name, which involves a special expertise. It is much more complicated to manage industrial activity, with a production line. Then, you run a network. When there is a difficulty at Montlimar, this spread to Lille, you find it in Britain, etc. It does not stop to manage disturbed situations. I am not an engineer by training, but I have a taste for the technique... I was passionate to me for the aircraft engine, I am passionate for the railway technology. "First revolution by Louis Gallois: relocation of Headquarters. "We need to get out of premises which had too much history." It was a way to break free of violence, with a past, in settling in a modern building, unpretentious, functional, the embodiment of the will to change mode of operation. The SNCF is a heavy business because it is complex to manage. It is also heavy because she has history. Since it worked, it has today a responsiveness that it had not before. I could see it when we had the test in 2003, the pensions strike. It brought the company, but we were able, in six months, up the slope.
Louis Gallois faces its share of difficulties. Among them: strikes. "This conflict is a major problem for the SNCF (...)". We have initiated a process with an agreement on the prevention of conflicts. This agreement worked but it has not fully achieved its results. This implies a collective responsibility taking, both management and unions. It must be that we were in this situation, otherwise there will always be a brake on the development of the SNCF. I said that 60 to 70 of the railway are almost never strike.