The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 340 million loan to finance the purchase of rolling stock and upgrading of RENFE’s existing equipment. The contract was signed by the Spanish Minister of Public Works, Magdalena Álvarez, EIB Vice-President Carlos da Silva Costa, and the Chairman of RENFE, José Salgueiro.

 The project financed involves the acquisition of 140 trains and installation of ERTMS equipment in 413 trains to enhance traffic safety. It consists exclusively of investment in suburban networks, mainly in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Cadiz, Malaga and Murcia.

 The project chimes perfectly with the EIB’s strategy of financing the transport sector with a view to achieving a Europe-wide balance of rail and road transport that reflects the major environmental benefits brought by rail transport.

At the signing ceremony, EIB Vice-President Carlos da Silva Costa stressed the EIB’s positive assessment of the Public Works Ministry’s drive to invest in Spain’s rail infrastructure, which has become a European benchmark on account of the rapid growth of the network and quality of service. In the 20 years since Spain joined the European Union, its rail sector has received EIB loans worth EUR 9 600 million, making the country the biggest recipient of EIB loans among the EU Member States in volume terms. Some EUR 2 700 million of this amount has been granted over the past four years.

The project is being financed in the framework of the agreements between the EIB and the Ministry of Public Works signed in 2002 and 2006 concerning the financing of investment in transport infrastructure (roads, railways, ports and airports) to the tune of EUR 20 000 million. Most of this amount has already been allocated to specific projects.

The EIB is the bank of the European Union whose purpose is to finance capital investment consistent with EU policies. Rail projects forming part of the trans-European transport networks (TENs) constitute one of the EU’s priorities owing to their role in fostering the economic and social integration of the EU, the free movement of people and goods and the development of the Union’s less favoured regions.