Ballasting and electrification work continues and this phase of the project is due to be completed by the middle of the year, by which time contractors will have installed 1400km of rail, 1.1 million sleepers, three million tonnes of ballast, and 14,000 catenary masts.

Dynamic testing will begin on the 302km line from Tours to Bordeaux in the second half of next year and commissioning is scheduled for mid-2017.

Tata Steel has supplied 84,000 tonnes of rail for the project under a €80m contract awarded in September 2011. The steel was produced at Tata's mill in Scunthorpe, Britain, and rolled into 108m-long rails at the company's Hayange steelworks in France.