The committee's findings were approved by 189 senators with 150 against. The Senate's first vote on the bill was passed by a similar majority on July 10.

The legislation is due to come into effect on January 1 2015 and will integrate French National Railways (SNCF) and French Rail Network (RFF) in a new holding company called SNCF, which will have infrastructure and operating subsidiaries. The draft legislation also includes provisions to control the railway's €44bn debts with performance contracts for both SNCF Mobility and SNCF Network.

French secretary of state for transport Mr Frédéric Cuvillier said: "This is not definitive reform of the rail sector, but a reform which should give a new framework and restore confidence in the future of the rail industry."