PARIS, March 14 (Xinhua) -- French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday presented, at a cabinet meeting, proposals to help debt-ridden state rail operator SNCF to improve services, a move to force the reform despite risk of nationwide street protests, President Emmanuel Macron office said.
"The government wants a profound transformation of transport policy in France, in order to guarantee the best mobility conditions for all French and in all territories," the Elysee said in a statement.
"To carry out this new policy, it is up to the government to undertake a comprehensive reform of the railway system, with the aim of ensuring better public service at the lowest cost," it added.
In this context, Macron's executive staff pledged "a new strategic corporate project" to improve SNCF performance after it had been struggling under debts of 46.6 billion euros (57.57 billion U.S. dollars), mainly due to generous pension system.
It also targets to open domestic rail passenger services to competition to create dynamism in the sector, in addition to new rules of recruitment for "a more efficient and unified" rail operator.
With the aim, the government proposed to scrap the special rail worker status, that allows workers to retire on full pension at 52, a decade before other French employees.
The statement added the government invited concerned parts to have "depth-dailogue" for the March-April period before the text passed to the national Assembly.
Trade unions have already called a strike for March 22 after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe unveiled the reform last month.
Many previous governments failed in reforming the public rail system. In 1995, a right-wing government led by Alain Juppe planned to end preferential working terms of rail workers, a move that triggered three-week strike and forced Juppe to step down. The then president Jacques Chirac had to abandon the reform and dissolve the National Assembly.