The European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing institution, will finance the acquisition of trains for passenger transportation across the Öresund Fixed Link, between Denmark and Sweden, with a loan of SEK 380 million (EUR 42 million). The beneficiary of the loan is Region Skåne (County of Skåne, Kristianstad, Sweden). The Öresund Fixed Link, a 16 kilometers long connection between Malmö and Copenhagen that opened in July 2000, is one of the priority trans-European network (TEN) projects. In total, the EIB has lent some EUR 1.8 billion for the development of the Öresund Fixed Link project.

The EIB has maintained a high level of financing in the European transport sector, committing some EUR 37.3 billion over the past five years for transport projects of which EUR 1.6 billion in Sweden and EUR 2.8 billion in Denmark. The Bank has given priority to supporting the more environmentally friendly schemes, concentrating over 40% of its loans into long-distance rail links and urban rail transport systems.

EIB Vice President Mr Nowotny, who signed the loan for the EIB, said that the Öresund trains project, as a trans-European network (TEN), is a scheme of strategic importance to Europe's railways and the development of a more environmentally friendly transport system both for freight and passengers. "The new trains improve rail operations, reduce energy consumption and noise, and increase safety. All of this contributes to improving the environment, as is generally the case for the transfer of passenger traffic from road to rail. I am convinced that the Öresund project will be a major success over the long term".

Mr Carl Sonesson, Chairman of Region Skåne's Executive Board, said: "Region Skåne welcomes the European Investment Bank's decision to support the investments in the infrastructure in the Öresund region. The united efforts to strengthen the integration between Skåne and Denmark have been stimulated due to the successful Öresund train services. Since July 2000, when the bridge opened, over 8 million journeys between Sweden and Denmark have been made by means of the new Öresund trains, a number well above pre-set targets".

The EIB loan goes towards the purchase of fifteen train sets of three car units. The trains are specially equipped to automatically adapt to the different electric power supply systems of the Danish and the Swedish railway networks. The train service will promote the integration of the Swedish and Danish regions on either side of Öresund by means of an environmentally friendly mode of transport. It will also form a reliable and safe integrated service between the regions as well as to the airport of Copenhagen.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development, trans-European networks in transport, telecoms and energy; industrial competitiveness and integration; SMEs; environmental protection; and energy security. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer). In 2001, the EIB lent some EUR 31 billion within the EU of which EUR 950 million was in Sweden and EUR 1.2 billion was in Denmark.

As part of its remit, the EIB supports the development of infrastructure networks with a Community dimension, notably in the transport sector. EIB financing in support of EU railways over the past five years has amounted to EUR 16.3 billion: 8.9 billion for main line networks, 5.2 billion for dedicated public transport systems and 2.2 billion for exceptional structures with a railway component (e.g. the Öresund link).