“The TGV locomotive went off the tracks,” around 30 kilometres northwest of Strasbourg, an SNCF spokeswoman said.
The driver, whose injury was not specified, was evacuated by helicopter following the accident near Ingenheim, around 30 kilometres northwest of Strasbourg.
The crew chief on the train also suffered a back injury and one passenger was hurt in the face, the SNCF said. A total of 21 people were injured, according to local authorities.
Nearly 100 rescue workers and dozens of fire trucks were at the scene of the accident, which occurred around 20 minutes after the train left Strasbourg, at 7.19 am on Thursday.
The train was still intact but the locomotive was leaning on its side and at least two other wagons were also off the tracks, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
ACCIDENT DE TGV : Un TGV reliant Strasbourg à Paris a déraillé ce matin à Ingenheim en Alsace. Plusieurs blessés, dont le conducteur dans un état grave. Des vitres du train, qui transportait 300 passagers, ont été brisées (DNA). pic.twitter.com/fk4zOnKZm5
— Infos Françaises (@InfosFrancaises) March 5, 2020
Alexandre Sergeant, a passenger on the train, told BFM television by telephone that the train left Strasbourg on time at 7:19 am (0619 GMT), and the accident occurred around 20 minutes later.
“All of a sudden we felt an impact, and then the train was on the gravel, it kept rolling for a while and then started to lean on its side,” Sergeant said.
“We're in the third wagon, all the windows are broken, and our wagon is off the tracks,” he added.
SNCF, which said traffic has been halted on the line, did not mention yet the cause of the accident.
In November 2015 11 people died when a TGV train on a test run derailed at Eckwersheim just north of Strasbourg and close to where Thursday's derailment took place.
The victims were among the team of 49 technicians aboard the train.
The train was running at around 350 kph (217 mph) on the high-speed line as part of testing for the next generation of TGV that went into service in Spring 2016.
The train ended up near a bridge in the water of a roughly 40-metre (130-foot) wide canal (see picture below).
A TGV train on a test run derails north of Strasbourg in 2015, leaving 11 dead. AFP