During the association's Board of Directors meeting, held in Paris on 20 September 2016, Jean-Claude Béchade was elected Chair of the association, replacing Jean-Michel Guerre, who has resigned.

Jean-Michel Guerre, Chair of since 2012, Vice-Chair of the Auvergne Region, handed in his resignation following the creation of the new larger regions of France and the renewal of their governing authorities. The Board of Directors warmly welcomed the interest and involvement that Jean-Michel Guerre demonstrated during the course of his mandate, especially through the organisation of the conference in Brussels in July 2015, which lay the foundations for the creation of the Via Atlantica Community of Interests.

Jean-Claude Béchade, who comes from civil society, has been a campaigner of long standing within the association. Originally from Limoges, he supports the high-performance coast-to-coast Via Atlantica rail link project:

  • for mixing freight and passengers,
  • for its multifunctionality: European traffic juxtaposed with optimized regional traffic,
  • for its transversality: developing a network of high-performance links on a European scale, breaking with the existing (Paris-centric) radial organisation of the railway network in France.

Elected at the same time that the Declaration of Public Utility (DUP) of the Poitiers-Limoges high-speed project was cancelled by the Council of State, he is determined to push forward the realisation of this link by framing it within the European context of an axis linking the Atlantic coast to the Eastern Europe.