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1938-2008:
SNCF Chairmen

Retrace our history through the roles played by our chairmen through the years.


1938 - 1949

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PIERRE  GUINAND

After serving as the First President of France’s Court of Auditors (Cour des Comptes) from 1936 to 1937, Pierre Guinand was appointed SNCF chairman when the national rail system was founded in 1938. The same year, SNCF became a semi-public limited company with the French state holding a 51% interest.

The armistice signed on 22 June 1940 placed SNCF under the authority of the German occupation, and in September 1940, the Vichy government dismissed Mr Guinand.

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PIERRE-EUGÈNE  FOURNIER

In 1940, Bank of France governor Pierre-Eugène Fournier was appointed to head SNCF. The new chief was very familiar with the rail network—his 1929 report analyzing the rail industry's business model and finances had led to the company's creation—and agreed to head SNCF during this very dark period in history.

He left six years later, in August 1946. By the end of the war, Allied bombing and sabotage by resistance fighters had destroyed three-quarters of the rail network, and sweeping reconstruction was needed.

In November 2010, SNCF formally apologized for the consequences of its acts under requisition in World War II: SNCF carriages had transported 76,000 men, women and children to Germany for transfer to Nazi concentration camps.

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MARCEL  FLOURET

A graduate of the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique, Marcel Flouret took the helm of SNCF in September 1946 and launched a reconstruction programme, investing heavily in electrification. The war had damaged nearly 2,600 bridges and viaducts; some 100 stations were destroyed and a large share of equipment and rolling stock was unusable.

Under Mr Flouret's chairmanship, SNCF adopted a new corporate identity and added a sixth region—the Mediterranean—to its network. Marcel Flouret served until May 1949.

PIERRE GUINAND

Our first chairman

First President of France’s Court of Auditors (Cour des Comptes) from 1936 to 1937, Pierre Guinand was appointed SNCF chairman when the national rail system was founded in 1938.

PIERRE-EUGÈNE FOURNIER

The dark years

In 1940, Bank of France governor Pierre-Eugène Fournier was appointed to head SNCF.

MARCEL FLOURET

Reconstruction

A graduate of the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique, Marcel Flouret took the helm of SNCF in September 1946.


1949 - 1975

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Pierre  Tissier

Pierre Tissier headed SNCF from 1949 until his sudden death in 1955. A former Conseiller d’État and Director General of the French tax administration, Tissier was the driving force behind the company’s energetic drive to modernize. He electrified the Paris-Lyon line, where a 140 km/h speed record was set during his term.

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LOUIS   ARMAND

An Ecole Polytechnique graduate and an iconic figure in Résistance-Fer, a network of French rail workers that fought the German occupation, Louis Armand was named managing director of SNCF in 1949. When appointed chairman in 1955, he launched a programme to electrify lines serving northern and eastern France, and adopted the new commercial-frequency single-phase alternating current system of 25,000 volts/50 Hz. During Mr. Armand’s tenure, SNCF set a new world record with two locomotives reaching 331 km/h. It also launched the Trans Europe Express network and eliminated 3rd class travel. Louis Armand stepped down as chairman in 1958.

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ANDRÉ   SÉGALAT

As SNCF chairman from 1958 to 1975, André Ségalat created the high-speed Paris-Lyon line—a revolution in rail. For the first time in an industrialized country, trains demonstrated their effectiveness in long-haul, high-speed passenger transport. Other innovations during Ségalat’s tenure included the launch of the Capitole service linking Paris to Toulouse, Sernam freight, new Vermeil and InterRail travel passes, and all-in-one Carte Orange travel passes for commuters in the Paris region. Electronic bookings also made their debut.

Pierre Tissier

Modernization gathers pace

Pierre Tissier headed SNCF from 1949 until his sudden death in 1955

LOUIS ARMAND

Innovation lifts off

An Ecole Polytechnique graduate and an iconic figure in Résistance-Fer, a network of French rail workers that fought the German occupation, Louis Armand was named managing director of SNCF in 1949.

ANDRÉ SÉGALAT

A revolutionary

As SNCF chairman from 1958 to 1975, André Ségalat created the high-speed Paris-Lyon line.


1975 - 1988

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JACQUES  PÉLISSIER

As chairman from 1975 to 1981, Jacques Pélissier enhanced passenger comfort and improved their travel experience by introducing Corail carriages. He also completed work on the country’s first high-speed train line, linking Paris to south-eastern France. In Greater Paris, SNCF opened RER Line C, the first 100% SNCF-operated regional express line.

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ANDRÉ   CHADEAU

André Chadeau was appointed chairman in 1981 and served for four years. He supervised introduction of the first high-speed service on the Paris-Lyon line and opened the new Lyon Part-Dieu station. Work also got under way on TGV Atlantique, the high-speed service to the Atlantic coast. And in a major change for the entire business, SNCF became a a semi-public limited company (EPIC­).

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PHILIPPE   ESSIG

Philippe Essig headed SNCF from 1985 to 1988. In 1987, the first TER regional express trains were introduced, offering direct region-to-region service, promoting regional towns and cities, and forging closer ties between SNCF and France’s regions.

JACQUES PÉLISSIER

Corail for comfort

As chairman from 1975 to 1981, Jacques Pélissier enhanced passenger comfort and improved their travel experience by introducing Corail carriages.

ANDRÉ CHADEAU

The first TGV

André Chadeau was appointed chairman in 1981 and served for four years.

PHILIPPE ESSIG

TER regional express is born

Philippe Essig headed SNCF from 1985 to 1988.


1988 - 1995

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PHILIPPE   ROUVILLOIS

Philippe Rouvillois, SNCF’s deputy head of finance, was appointed chairman in February 1988. He stepped down after a serious accident at Gare de Lyon in Paris in June 1988 claimed 56 lives. A memorial erected on underground Platform B pays tribute to the victims.

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JACQUES   FOURNIER

Under the chairmanship of Jacques Fournier from 1988 to 1994, TGV Atlantique service was extended to Le Mans. A new world record of 513.3 km/h was set on 18 May 1990, and in 1991 a European directive opened rail markets up to competition.

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JEAN   BERGOUGNOUX

Jean Bergougnoux headed SNCF from 1994 to 1995. Eurostar service was launched, linking Paris and London in just 3 hours, and in Greater Paris ties between regional transport authority RATP and SNCF were tightened with the introduction of joint tickets.

Following a wave of strikes protesting retirement reform, SNCF rolled out teams of commuter advisors to provide updates on train status. This has now become “SNCF Assistance”: on peak travel days, in-station volunteers assist and inform travellers. Jean Bergougnoux resigned following strikes in 1995.

PHILIPPE ROUVILLOIS

A lull

Philippe Rouvillois, SNCF’s deputy head of finance, was appointed chairman in February 1988.

JACQUES FOURNIER

TGV Atlantique line

Under the chairmanship of Jacques Fournier from 1988 to 1994, TGV Atlantique service was extended to Le Mans.

JEAN BERGOUGNOUX

Eurostar

Jean Bergougnoux headed SNCF from 1994 to 1995.


1995 - 2008

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LOÏK   LE FLOCH-PRIGENT

Serving as chairman from 1995 to 1996, Loïk Le Floch-Prigent oversaw the launch of Thalys, the first high-speed service linking Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. SNCF also introduced double-decker TGV trainsets on its most heavily-travelled lines.

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LOUIS   GALLOIS

As SNCF chairman from 1996 to 2006, Louis Gallois gave the company fresh impetus, creating Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) in 1997, and revamping regional transport in the Paris area with the 1999 launch of Transilien. In 2000, regions became operating authorities. And in 2001, SNCF opened what would become France’s most popular e-commerce site: voyages-sncf.com. Meanwhile, the TGV Méditerranée line brought Marseilles and Paris closer, and iDTGV trains created a new way to travel.

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ANNE-MARIE  IDRAC

From 2006 to 2008, Anne-Marie Idrac served as SNCF’s first female chairperson and first vice-president of UIC, the International Union of Railways. She introduced a reform of rail workers’ retirement system and guaranteed minimum level of rail service during strikes. Launch of the new TGV Est high-speed line linking Paris and Strasbourg proved immensely popular with passengers, and SNCF set a new world speed record of 574.8 km/h on 3 April 2007.

Ms Idrac also focused on improving SNCF Group’s freight and logistics operations and extended their European reach, drawing inspiration from models in Germany. Regional transport also came in for attention, with upgrades for both TER and Transilien.

LOÏK LE FLOCH-PRIGENT

TGV Duplex

Serving as chairman from 1995 to 1996, Loïk Le Floch-Prigent oversaw the launch of Thalys, the first high-speed service linking Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

LOUIS GALLOIS

New energy

As SNCF chairman from 1996 to 2006, Louis Gallois gave the company fresh impetus, creating Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) in 1997.

ANNE-MARIE IDRAC

The reformer

From 2006 to 2008, Anne-Marie Idrac served as SNCF’s first female chairperson and first vice-president of UIC, the International Union of Railways.