This will form the basis for a new performance contract between the state and RFF for the 2013-17 period.

According to a report in Le Monde, Cuvillier says: "The objective is not only to replace the rail and ballast, but also to modernise the network to improve the traffic flow, reliability and safety - in brief its overall performance."

According to an audit published by Lausanne Federal Polytechnic, between 10 and 20% of main lines have passed their reasonable economic life. The average life of the infrastructure on the main lines was 15 years in 1990, but had increased to 20 years by 2005. The government wants the average age to reduce to 18 years by mid-2020.

Spending on improving the quality of the network will increase by €300m a year to €2bn. RFF estimates there will need to be more than 1000 projects annually across the network to increase capacity and improve reliability.