The European Investment Bank is providing financial support for the construction of the Mulhouse and Valenciennes tramway networks.

The EIB has granted a EUR 35 million loan to Syndicat Intercommunal des Transports de l'Agglomération Mulhousienne (SITRAM) for the construction of an urban tram network.

This represents the first tranche of a loan of up to EUR 130 million in support of the overall planned investment. The finance contract was signed on 25 November 2003 in Mulhouse by Mr Jean-Marie Bockel, Chairman of SITRAM and Mayor of Mulhouse, and Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice-President of the EIB.

The initial phase of the project consists of the construction of 2 tramway lines (one running South-North, the other West-East) with a total length of 20 km and 38 stations. These will be commissioned in stages starting end-2005 and by 2010 will serve 5 municipalities. The project also includes a number of ancillary schemes such as park-and-ride facilities. A distinctive feature is that by 2008 it is planned to interconnect the tramway and rail networks, explaining why the scheme has been dubbed the "TramTrain" project.

The EIB is also financing the "Transvilles" tramway project for the Valenciennes conurbation, sponsored by Syndicat Intercommunal des Transports Urbains de la Région de Valenciennes (SITURV). The finance contract was signed on 24 November 2003 by SITURV, represented by its Chairman, Mr Francis Decourrière, and the EIB, represented by Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive. The EIB is granting a EUR 110 million loan to SITURV, which will be intermediated by three of the latter's regional banking partners: Dexia Crédit Local (46%), Crédit Agricole Nord de France (30%) and Caisse d'Épargne des Pays du Hainaut (24%). This operation will support the construction of the first tramway line connecting the eastern and south-western suburbs (the most densely populated districts and the University area) to the city centre of Valenciennes, as well as 19 stations, 5 of which will be specially configured as interchange points with the other modes of public transport (urban bus/shuttle, train).

Both the SITRAM and SITURV projects reflect a commitment to building new public transport networks as a key component of urban, economic and social development policies. They will facilitate the switch from the use of private cars to less-polluting tramways, thereby impacting positively on the quality of the urban environment.

The EIB is granting these loans as part of its priority action to improve quality of life in urban areas.

In the past 10 years, over EUR 10 billion has been pumped into urban transport projects in the European Union as a whole, of which 1.1 billion in France. The EIB is helping to finance metro and tramway networks in the following cities: Athens, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, Lisbon, Madrid, Munich, Düsseldorf, London, Manchester, Midland, Sheffield, Dublin; and in France, Lyons, Rennes, Montpellier, Orleans, Nancy, Nantes, Strasbourg and Toulouse.