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After an outcry, striking train drivers from rail company SNCF agree to operate a popular service that allows children aged between four and 14 to travel unaccompanied by a parent or carer over Christmas.
National rail operator SNCF previously said it was cancelling the service, used by children aged between four and 14 who are supervised by a monitor, because of a massive transport strike over the Government's pension reform proposal.
The move sparked outcry, with some 5,000 children expected to be affected.
"It was unfair for the children," said Parisian mother Marie-Laure Belle, whose 11-year-old daughter was set to travel on Sunday.
"We shouldn't deprive children of Christmas and prevent them from being with their families."
But following a Christmas truce from some striking drivers, the company said it would run special trains for the children booked to travel on the service.
The first children's trains for the holidays, dubbed "Junior and Co", departed from Gare de Lyon station in Paris early on Sunday and transported 140 children.
In total, about 1,000 children were able to travel on Sunday via seven Paris-Marseille roundtrips, according to SNCF.
For 11-year-old Lucas da Silva, who was slated to spend the holidays with his father in the southern French city of Marseille, the decision to operate the children's trains was a Christmas miracle.
"I would have been very disappointed because I don't see him often," Lucas said.
"I miss him sometimes. I really want to see him."
Speaking on Saturday during a visit to Ivory Coast, French President Emmanuel Macron called on transport unions to suspend strikes during the Christmas holidays to avoid disrupting travel for families.
Two weeks of nationwide industrial action against Mr Macron's pension reform, which would scrap special regimes for sectors like the railways and make people work to 64 to draw a full pension, have crippled train services.
Mr Macron aims to streamline the generous state pension system and prod people to work past the legal retirement age of 62.
But despite calls by some unions to suspend strikes during the festive season, several rail workers' groups are continuing stoppages as travellers head off on holiday.
Amid the outcry, Mr Macron's office announced the President himself would forgo his own pension entitlements.
"The President of the Republic will converge ... with the universal points system planned for all French people," Mr Macron's office said.
"It is a question of being exemplary and coherent."
Under a law dating back to 1955, France's presidents are entitled to draw a pension of about 6,000 euros ($AU9,626) per month before tax as soon as they leave office.
Mr Macron will waive these pension rights and change the presidential scheme to bring it into line with the wider overhaul of France's retirement system, his office said, confirming an earlier report by French daily Le Parisien.
The 42-year-old President will be years away from France's legal retirement age of 62 when he leaves office, even if he serves two full five-year terms.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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