After a review of the dossier provided by the promoter, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing a EUR 175m loan to finance the CLEO project, of which EUR 75m in the form of a direct loan to Communauté d’Agglomération Orléans Val de Loire and EUR 100m through banking partners.

Charles-Eric LEMAIGNEN, President of the Communauté d’Agglomération, and EIB Vice-President Philippe de FONTAINE VIVE CURTAZ signed the memorandum of understanding for the first loan of EUR 75m on 25 September in Orléans in the presence of a large number of elected representatives. This European financing operation will contribute to expanding the range of transport services offered by the bus and tram network. The additional funding of EUR 100m should be arranged in 2009.

It is the objective of the European Investment Bank, the European Union’s (EU) financing institution, to give financial support to local authorities’ infrastructure projects for the benefit of citizens, provided that they help to further EU objectives.  Urban transport is a European Union priority, particularly in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions.

As a finance provider for projects meeting stringent criteria, the EIB agreed to support the Communauté d’Agglomération’s project because of CLEO’s beneficial impact on its environment in terms of urban enhancement, economic growth and social cohesion as well as sustainable development.

The CLEO project, recognised as being in the public interest by the prefectoral approval of 10 January 2008, will serve 25 stations and 6 park & ride facilities in the municipalities of Chapelle Saint-Mesmin, Ingré, Saint-Jean de la Ruelle, Orléans and Saint-Jean de Braye along a 11.8km route and will have a total cost of around EUR 350m.

Forming an east-west axis across the Orléans conurbation, CLEO includes a tram line, of which 90% will run in dedicated corridors, widened pavements, pedestrian safety crossings and cycle paths alongside the tram line, while maintaining the existing traffic lanes wherever possible. Furthermore, this initiative ties in with a project for the overall redevelopment of the areas crossed by the tramline in close cooperation with the municipalities and thus supports various urban regeneration schemes.

During his visit to Orléans at the invitation of Charles-Eric Lemaignen, Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive commented,  “Europe must be brought closer to its citizens. I am therefore delighted that the EIB can contribute to sustainable urban transport development in France, and in Greater Orléans in particular”.