The first of the 160km/h class B 85000 sets entered passenger service on the route on April 29 and by the end of July the new trains will operate all Toulouse - Bayonne Intercités services.

Toulouse - Bayonne - Hendaye is one of just six conventional long-distance routes that will remain under state control beyond 2020.

Competitive tendering is planned for Nantes - Bordeaux and Nantes - Lyon services, which have already switched to B 85000 operation, and responsibility for other Intercités routes is being transferred to regional governments.

Under the investment plan of its recent Mobility Bill, the French government intends to replace the entire conventional long-distance fleet over 10 years at a cost of €3.7bn.