This €194m finance contract for the purchase of 26 TER trainsets signed between Michel Vauzelle, President of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Stéphane Keïta, Caisse des Dépôts' Director of Regional Development and Networks, is aimed at renovating and upgrading the region's rail network in order to improve the quality and performance of the service.

This loan will enable the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region to purchase 10 bi-mode dual voltage trainsets, more commonly known as Régiolis trainsets, and 16 dual voltage Régio 2N trainsets intended for regional services (TER). The total cost of this acquisition will be around €270m, with a unit cost of €7m per Régiolis trainset and €10m for Régio 2N trainsets.

The purchase of these new trains will enable the old rolling stock to be replaced. This will help to significantly improve the quality of the public service, generate operating cost savings and increase the number of seats on TER trains by nearly 9 000 (20% more than at present). The impact on total capacity (seats and standing room) will be even greater, with the trains able to accommodate an additional 16 500 passengers, i.e. a net increase of 33%.

The new trainsets will be able to accommodate standing passengers in complete safety during the rush hours and in the vicinity of major conurbations. They will offer users an optimal level of service, with information being provided by innovative visual and sound systems, particularly for the hard of hearing. They will also be equipped to provide better accessibility for the disabled. Using the latest technologies (low electricity and thermal consumption), the project will offer those living in the region a cheap and environmentally-friendly alternative to private vehicles.

At a time when the EIB is stepping up its activities to support regional economic growth in France, this new €130m long-term loan on attractive terms thanks to the Bank's AAA rating is vital for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region. The loan being provided today by the EIB to the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region reflects the EU bank's commitment to modernising  public transport and regional development in France, the aim of which is to improve energy efficiency and people's quality of life. In this connection, in July 2013 the Bank put in place a €750m investment programme to enable French regions to acquire new rolling stock. This is the third project signed under this wide-ranging programme, following on from the financing operations in the Alsace (2013) and Lorraine (2014) Regions. It echoes the EIB’s unprecedented activity to support projects promoting growth and employment in France, for which the Bank already dedicated €7.8bn in 2013 (80% more than in 2012).

Caisse des Dépôts is offering a €64.1m loan out of the €20bn savings funds budget that it is providing to the local public sector over the period 2013-2017. This is aimed at supporting the Region's infrastructure projects in public transport and enhancing the region's attractiveness.

"By supporting rail over road transport, this project will help to promote sustainable transport in a region that is faced with major challenges in terms of air quality, congestion and road safety. I am delighted that the EIB, which has made support for more environmentally-friendly and efficient transport one of its priorities, is helping to finance this project with the aim of improving the daily lives of our citizens. In a region that the Bank knows well, we have again managed to demonstrate the practical application of the EU's economic policies at the very heart of Europe's towns and regions", declared EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive at the signing ceremony.

"With this loan, Caisse des Dépôts – a long-standing and key partner of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region – confirms its commitment to backing infrastructure projects that foster the competitiveness, ecological transition and social cohesion of this region. The signature of this finance contract also illustrates the ability of the EIB and Caisse des Dépôts to join forces as their activities have much in common in terms of principles, methods and targeted sectors and are complementary bearing in mind Caisse des Dépôts' regional presence and the EIB's financial capacity", remarked Stéphane Keïta, Caisse des Dépôts' Director of Regional Development and Networks.

"Our priority today is to provide safe, comfortable and sustainable means of transport to our region's citizens and to our visitors. Thanks to the EIB and Caisse des Dépôts, which have been key partners for us for many years, the financing terms available to us are particularly competitive and will enable us to manage the project's budget efficiently for the benefit of our passengers", acclaimed Michel Vauzelle, President of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.