The European Investment Bank (EIB), the project financing bank of the European Union, is providing a loan of ECU 22 million for priority investments by Lithuania's national railway company Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (LG) for the upgrading of the Lithuanian railway network. This loan brought total EIB lending in Lithuania to ECU 101 million.

LG will use the funds for financing track renewal on selected stretches totalling 310 km on the Sumskas-Klaipeda and Kasiadorys-Kybartai lines. Investments also comprise the improvement of signalling equipment and telecommunications on these important Trans-European Network (TENs) lines, as well as the modernisation of rolling stock. Works are expected to be completed by the end of 2001. Lithuania's railway improvement programme is also supported by the EU grant aid programme PHARE and by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Commenting the loan, EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth said: 'The east-west railway links between the Belarus-Lithuania border and the Baltic Sea ports of Klaipeda and Kaliningrad are of pan-European importance. EIB support for the project will help economic development in the region and facilitate communication with the European Union. Extending the trans-European transport networks the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will also help the Baltic States in their effort to prepare for EU membership in a not too distant future'.

The EIB is the European Union's long-term financing institution for supporting capital investment projects that further European integration. Since 1990, its resources, know-how and experience are also made available to assist the Central and Eastern European countries in their transition to market economies. By the end of 1996, EIB's total lending in Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia had reached ECU 4.8 billion.

31/12/1996: 1 ECU = 4,97340 LTL.