French rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF) and US firm International Business Machines (IBM) are set to form a six-year data-processing partnership.

The deal is worth €1.7bn ($2.46bn) in sales.

The contract involves the maintenance, development and production of applications for the railway operator.

SNCF expects the partnership to improve the performance of its information systems as well as the reliability of its operations.

The joint venture will be 51% owned by SNCF and the remaining 49% by IBM.