The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 43 million to JSC Lithuanian Railways to purchase new freight locomotives.

The EIB loan will contribute to financing the purchase of 34 modern diesel locomotives that will replace 64 old Soviet-era locomotives in use since the 1970s. The new fleet will be used for freight transport on the 420 km section of the Trans-European Corridor IX B between the Lithuanian port of Klaipeida and the border with Byelorussia in the East as well as on the 124 km corridor IX D providing connection with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The project will provide substantial economic benefits in terms of reduction of maintenance costs, increased efficiency as well as improved safety and higher transport speed, and will also lead to a positive environmental impact as the performance of the modern locomotives will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases and other dangerous emissions.

Mr. Sauli Niinistö, EIB Vice-President whose responsibilities include, inter alia, the Bank's lending in the Baltic countries, commented: The EIB, being the policy-driven long-term lending institution of the EU, supports projects contributing to the modernisation and capacity increase along Trans-European Corridors. I am very pleased to be here today to sign this important loan for the development and convergence of Lithuania's economy; this loan can be expected to contribute to increasing Lithuanian Railways' competitiveness vis-à-vis the road transport, with positive consequences notably for the protection of environment.

In the 1990s, the EIB had already provided a first loan of EUR 40 million for the implementation of the modernisation plan for the Lithuanian Railways covering track renewal, modernisation of signalling and telecommunications on sections located on the main Lithuanian railway lines as well as purchase of locomotives.

The primary mission of the EIB, the European Union's financing institution, is to contribute to the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the Member States.

Modernisation and development of the individual corridors building the trans-European transport network represents one of the EIB lending priorities. These corridors were defined at the pan-European Transport Conferences of Crete in 1994 and Helsinki in 1997 and they have a crucial role in securing the free movement of goods - as they carry almost half of all freight and passengers inside the Union.