Mr Bernard Rivalta, Chairman of Syndicat Mixte des Transports pour le Rhône et l'Agglomération Lyonnaise (SYTRAL), and Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed in Lyon today the finance contract for a EUR 200 million EIB loan to SYTRAL.

This loan will be devoted to modernising Greater Lyon's public transport infrastructure, specifically through the construction of a third tram line linking Part-Dieu to Meyzieu (eastern line) and the extension of metro line A (Bonnevay to la Soie).

Supported by the EIB, SYTRAL's major investment programme (nearly EUR 600 million between 2004 and 2008) is a key component of Greater Lyon's urban transport plan. It aims to increase the attractiveness of public transport and encourage a switch from private car use in the city while providing transport links to deprived districts. The EIB has previously mounted two operations in Lyon as part of its support for the development of exclusive lane public transport and improvement of the quality of life in cities. In 1996, it granted SYTRAL a EUR 107 million loan to extend metro line B to the Gerland district, and in 1999, it made available a further EUR 152 million to construct the first two tram lines (T1 and T2).

The EIB sees its lending in favour of exclusive lane public transport as part of its priority action to promote sustainable urban development, with the emphasis on reducing pollution and improving the quality of life in urban areas while at the same time encouraging economic expansion in towns. In this connection, the EIB has, over the past five years, lent some EUR 10 billion throughout the European Union for the development of urban transport. It has been involved in financing metros and tramways in the UK Midlands and cities such as Athens, Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Brussels, Berlin, Valencia, Lisbon, Madrid, Munich, Düsseldorf, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Dublin, Budapest and Prague. In France, the EIB has provided funding of EUR 1.5 billion over the past five years for numerous exclusive lane public transport projects, notably in Lyon, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nancy, Nantes, Orléans, Rennes, St Etienne, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Valenciennes.