The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing financing of EUR 1.2bn for the Sud-Europe Atlantique (SEA) high-speed rail line between Tours and Bordeaux, one of the biggest rail projects in Europe. Following a six-year design and construction phase, the line will connect Bordeaux and Paris in two hours and five minutes.

The EIB’s financing is broken down as follows:

  • EUR 1bn of debt (of which EUR 400m of Government-guaranteed debt under its economic stimulus plan, EUR 200m of lending not guaranteed by the Government, and equity bridging lending of almost EUR 400m);
  • LGTT (Loan Guarantee on TEN-T projects) guarantee of EUR 200m. This facility, established jointly by the Bank and the European Commission, is being used in support of a French project for the first time.

This unprecedented loan – the largest ever advanced by the EIB in France – confirms the Bank’s capacity to back large-scale projects to upgrade and extend trans-European networks (TENs) via innovative, competitive financing tools.

EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive emphasised the importance of this loan: “I am delighted that the EIB is associated with this major project, which is innovative thanks to its financing structure and unprecedented contractual format. The EIB’s participation in this project was vital and served as a catalyst. This is the first time that the Bank has committed such a large sum in France – EUR 1.2bn – with the use of innovative and diversified facilities like the LGTT. Our goal is to encourage the private sector to participate more widely in the financing of infrastructure to provide sustainable, safer transport, invigorate the regions served and further open up trans-European networks and connections.”

The EIB has decided to commit a minimum of EUR 75bn to trans-European transport projects over the period 2004-2013. In 2010 it lent EUR 8.1bn for TEN-T projects and major transport links. The EIB’s extensive support for innovative PPP financing was reflected by a total investment of EUR 26.8bn between 2000 and 2010.

General press release attached: High-speed rail between Tours and Bordeaux Réseau Ferré de France and VINCI sign world’s biggest rail concession contract