"We will be supplying rails each measuring 108m," says Mr Gérard Glas, head of Tata Steel´s Rail Sector. "These longer rails give passengers a smoother ride and reduce maintenance costs. This order is also an endorsement of our strategy to invest in premium steel products."

Tata Steel is currently ramping up production at Hayange following completion of a Euros 35m upgrade to enable the plant to produce 108m rails. It can already produce such rails in Scunthorpe.

SEA will extend the existing Paris - Tours TGV Atlantique line south to Poitiers and Bordeaux and is due to open in 2016. Construction of the 19 viaducts and seven tunnels on the line is due to start in the first half of next year.