On Monday the driver of a TGV high speed train between Paris and Nantes raised the alarm after reporting that his train had struck two people on the tracks.
The incident, that caused major delays on the line, was initially believed to have been an accident.
However since then initial police investigations have discovered a much more chilling scenario.
Detectives now believe the father of four tied his 34-year-old wife to the tracks and waited for the train to arrive. When it did, he threw himself in front of it. The man and woman were killed instantly.
French police were able to identify the couple after finding their vehicle nearby.
The local gendarmerie have launched an investigation.
According to their initial probe the father had called his parents the night before to confess to what he was about to do.
He then took his 34-year-old wife to a spot on the TGV line near the town of Beauvilliers, in the Eure-et-Loir department.
He tied her to the tracks using tape. Police are trying to determine whether or not she was drugged before the tragedy or whether she was conscious.
A source close to the investigation told BFM TV: “This is a terrible act by a man who had succumbed to a long-term depression.”
The father had been unemployed for the last three years and the couple, whose youngest child is just 15 months old, were apparently going through a separation.
In 2013 the Interior Ministry said some 150 women – roughly one every 2.5 days, die each year in France as a result of domestic violence.
Only 10 percent of victims of domestic violence in the country come forward to police, the ministry said.
In 2013 the government announced an action plan to tackle the problem that included opening an emergency helpline seven days a week and providing more accommodation for abused women.