The two historical public companies have to adapt to a rapidly changing economic world. And face up to competition.
While they agree on the government's ambition to green the economy, the two public groups SNCF and La Poste (66% owned by Caisse des Dépôts and 34% by the State) will also face in the coming months the challenges of increasingly pressing competition in the world following the Covid-19 epidemic.
In an interview for Les Echos at the end of the week, the SNCF's new boss, Jean-Pierre Farandou, admitted that the traffic on his lines had not caught up with the pre-pandemic level. A part of the TGV business clientele has opted for teleworking and in the TER the decline is "30 to 40 %" due to a strong return of the individual car.
Improving customer relations
The SNCF is also expected in its relationship with customers. Since the end of the confinement, the group has stepped up communications about cancellation conditions to encourage users to make reservations.
And another revolution is brewing, according to Jean-Pierre Farandou. "Even if, objectively, the image doesn't reflect reality, the perception is that the TGV is expensive and that's a problem," he explained in Les Echos.
Since the 1990s, the SNCF has in fact abandoned the kilometre rate with the development of the TGV for a practice known as yield management. Fares are calculated according to supply and demand and change as departures approach.
La Poste's ambition is to remain the leader in parcel delivery with Colissimo. By improving the service. "Before the confinement, our delivery error rate was 1%. Out of 2 million parcels, that's 20,000 customers badly served per day, it's not satisfactory", explained Xavier Mallet, the general manager of La Poste in the columns of Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui en France.
In logistics, the most difficult kilometre is the last one, especially in big cities: a challenge carried by Urby, a subsidiary of La Poste (read below). The group is also working to reduce the size of parcels by 10% so that more can be slipped into letterboxes.
Facing the competition
The liberalisation of the rail market from 2020 remains the first challenge for the SNCF, Jean-Pierre Farandou explained to the National Assembly this summer. He is counting on his experience at the head of Keolis (a branch of the SNCF) to meet this challenge. Keolis already generates nearly half of its turnover in the competition zone, abroad.
The group also announced on Monday that it has been awarded the contract for the operation and maintenance of the Adelaide (Australia) rail network, awarded for the first time to a private operator.
Finally, the green turn in the economy decreed by the government through the recovery plan must also go through the SNCF. All the more so as 4.7 billion of the 100 billion of the plan are planned to support the railway sector.
"The train pollutes ten to twenty times less than the other modes of transport and consumes six times less energy per ton and transported passengers," Jean-Pierre Farandou puts forward as a strong argument.
A greening that also concerns La Poste, which today claims to have the first electric fleet in the world with 40,000 vehicles. And will launch a major communication campaign in the coming days.