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SNCB boss Jo Cornu to step down

13:45 29/04/2016

Jo Cornu, the business executive brought in to run the national rail authority SNCB in 2013, is to step down after serving less than half of his six-year term. Cornu is 71 and when appointed made it clear he might not finish the term.

“I would like to fulfil my entire mandate,” Cornu (pictured) said at the time. “But at my age, everything is relative.”

Cornu was the emergency replacement for the Di Rupo government in 2013 when Frank Van Massenhove, head of the federal social security department, pulled out of the plan to take over from SNCB CEO Marc Descheemaecker. Cornu had a good reputation from previous posts at Alcatel and Agfa Gevaert, but he had no experience with the railways.

He set out on a course of modernisation and cost-cutting, putting him on a collision course with rail unions on both counts. The result was an endless series of strikes and disruptive actions that stretched the patience of rail passengers to the limit.

No date has been set for his departure, which will be determined “in co-operation with the government,” he announced on Twitter. And he promised to leave his successor “a clear framework to take control of the SNCB”.

According to a statement published on the SNCB website, Cornu had been in talks about the future of the structure of SNCB with federal mobility minister Jacqueline Galant. She resigned earlier this month.

Her successor, François Bellot, commented: “I am grateful for the work Jo Cornu has done since his appointment. He has assured me that he will carry on with his job until the most suitable moment, in the interests of the enterprise.”

Photo courtesy Infrabel

Written by Alan Hope