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    ©Anna Hunko/Unsplash
    • The project concerns the acquisition of new rolling stock and renewal of existing rolling stock
    • This forms part of the programme regulating the rail sector via two 42-year concession contracts signed between the two regions and their wholly-owned special purpose vehicle
    • It is part of these two regions’ plan to promote the use of sustainable rail transport and foster a modal shift

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a €400 million loan agreement with the local public company SPIIT (Société Publique Interrégionale des Investissements en faveur des Transports), which is owned by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie regions, to acquire new rolling stock and modernise the existing rolling stock. SPIIT is designed to provide both regions with a technical and organisational tool to manage their rolling stock (maintenance, acquisition, etc.) for regional passenger transport services. The estimated total cost for these investments is around €1.2 billion. It will be financed by a combination of equity and senior loans from the EIB, Caisse des Dépôts and a group of commercial banks.

    The investments financed by the EIB concern the acquisition of 39 trains (24 electric, 12 bi-mode diesel/electric and three hydrogen/electric units) and the mid-life refurbishment of 97 electric and bi-mode diesel/electric trains currently used by SNCF Voyageurs in these two regions.

    These investments are financed via two 42-year concession contracts signed between the two regions and SPIIT, a wholly-owned entity that they created jointly in 2023 to manage all their rolling stock. This rolling stock will be made available to the operators selected by the two regions for their rail transport services.

    This operation will boost the supply and quality of rail services in both regions by reducing journey times, increasing train frequency and capacity, improving efficiency, reducing maintenance costs and enhancing passenger comfort. It will also promote the modal shift of passengers from road to rail, thus strengthening sustainable transport in line with EU objectives. The project will have a positive impact on the environment in terms of safety, energy savings, air pollution, noise and CO2 emissions. Higher-quality, modern public transport will foster social inclusion by improving accessibility to jobs, public services and education.

    The project will help meet the sustained growth in passenger numbers on these two regional networks observed between 2019 and 2022 (+17% in Nouvelle Aquitaine and +30% in Occitanie). It parallels other major public transport investments in the two regions, namely the creation of four express metropolitan networks in the region around Toulouse, Montpellier, Bordeaux and in the Basque Country.

    The EIB loan plays a major role in the overall financing of this operation, sending a positive signal to the co-lenders of this project. It reduces the cost of financing for the borrower and provides a stable long-term funding base in line with EU policy objectives. It thus helps attract more private investment into the sector and ensures a level playing field.

    The project is being implemented in two EU cohesion regions, thus improving their accessibility and the mobility of their population. It therefore helps strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in the European Union.

    It supports the development of electric rail transport services, as well as innovative traction technologies (hydrogen), which are transport technologies without direct emissions. The project thus helps to combat global warming and develop sustainable means of transport, in keeping with the priorities of the EIB, the European Union's public climate bank.

    EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said: “Such large-scale rail investment in these two regions meets our priority objective of contributing through our funding to the decarbonisation of public transport. This sector, which is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is our largest investment sector in France with almost €2.5 billion invested in it last year. This operation illustrates how the European Union is helping to tangibly improve the daily lives of its citizens by modernising and expanding more attractive and cleaner means of public transport.”

    Background information

    About the European Investment Bank

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its 27 Member States. It provides loans to the public and private sectors for sound investment contributing to EU policy goals. In 2023, France received more EIB financing for the energy and green transition than any other country, with overall investment of €6.9 billion for renewable energy, clean mobility and energy efficiency. A partner of regional authorities, last year the EIB directed €2.5 billion in funding to rail and urban public transport and sustainable mobility, making it the number one sector in terms of EIB investment in France over the year.