The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term financing institution is lending £200 million towards the construction of the first section of the high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) between London and Folkestone. This EIB loan, with a maturity of up to 30 years, goes to London & Continental Railways, the concessionaire who will on lend the funds to its subsidiary Union Railways (South) Ltd, responsible for construction and is guaranteed by Railtrack.

EIB President, Sir Brian Unwin said: "CTRL forms a crucial and long-awaited part of the PBKAL (Paris, Brussels, Köln, Amsterdam and London) high-speed rail Trans-European Network. Financing such major European transport networks is a key EIB priority. Following its support for the Channel Tunnel link itself, the EIB is pleased to join the commercial banks in financing Railtrack and LCR in this new innovative Public Private Partnership put in place for the CTRL by the UK Government, Railtrack and Eurostar. The EIB's exceptionally long-term loan for CTRL is being provided under the special financing"Window" available for priority Trans-European Network projects."

The overall CTRL project consists of a 109 km twin track high-speed passenger and freight line between London's St Pancras Station and the Channel Tunnel. The first section of CTRL, for which the financing has just been completed, runs from the Channel Tunnel to Fawkham Junction in North Kent.

Once the first section of CTRL is completed in 2003, it will carry international Eurostar services and bring a substantial improvement in international services between London through the Channel Tunnel with Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. When the whole project is completed in 2006, it will provide new capacity for domestic commuter services in the South East, allow the introduction of high-speed commuter services to London, free-up capacity on existing lines, and contribute to urban regeneration in the East London and East Thames areas.

In 1996, the EIB lent £100 million for the design phase of CTRL. The Bank has played an active part in the discussions and negotiations leading to the agreement on the new financing package for the first section of the link.

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). Sir Brian Unwin is the first British President of the institution and assumed office in 1993. In 1997, the EIB lent over ECU 26 billion, of which ECU 3.7 billion in the UK, and borrowed ECU 23 billion on capital markets.

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30/09/1998: 1 ECU = 0.69 GBP, 0.79 IEP.