Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2012 (Revised May 2013)

Automating the Paris Subway (A)

by Michel Anteby, Elena Corsi and Emilie Billaud

Abstract

In 2001, the head of the Paris Subway reflected on how to transform Line 1 into a driverless line without triggering a social conflict. After the shock of the 2000 Notre Dame de Lorette subway accident, in which a train derailed and caused 25 injuries in a Paris subway station, the state-owned Paris subway operator Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) decided to adopt new security measures and considered the opportunity to automate the oldest and the busiest line of the network. The Head of the Paris Subway, Serge Lagrange, believed that automating Line 1 would improve security as well as performance. However, the automation would bring about the downsizing of 219 drivers' positions. Lagrange had to figure out how to get the RATP employees on board, particularly drivers and trade unions. How could he convince them of the necessity to automate Line 1? How could he prevent the potentially major social conflict that might result from downsizing the drivers' positions?

Keywords: Change Management; Technological Innovation; Rail Transportation; Labor Unions; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Conflict Management; Rail Industry; Transportation Industry; Paris;

Citation:

Anteby, Michel, Elena Corsi, and Emilie Billaud. "Automating the Paris Subway (A)." Harvard Business School Case 413-061, September 2012. (Revised May 2013.)