High-speed train derails in eastern France; 21 injured

One of France's vaunted high-speed trains has derailed on a trip to Paris

The driver, who was seriously injured, managed to slam on the emergency brakes and bring the train to a halt. The derailment was the first involving a commercially operated TGV train with passengers on board.

The high-speed trains started running in 1981. A fatal accident involving a TGV test train took place on the same rail line in 2015 before its official opening.

The derailment opened a gash on the pointed nose of the sleek train, which stayed upright. Its side was scratched and some windows were cracked.

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.

In November 2015, a TGV test train derailed in Eckwersheim, in eastern France, during trials for a new line. One person died and 42 were injured, mostly SNCF employees and guest passengers.