The SNCF said it was the first time that a commercially operated TGV train has derailed since the service was inaugurated in 1981, between Paris and the southern city of Lyon. TGV stands for “Train à Grande Vitesse,” or high-speed train.
The seriously injured train driver was evacuated by helicopter.
Passengers told French media they felt a bang before the train slowed and stopped.
An investigation will determine whether the train struck an earth bank that collapsed close to the track.