The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 105 million for upgrading the transport system in the Bulgarian Capital Sofia, particularly the extension of the city’s metro network and acquisition of new trains. This is the first direct loan provided by the Bank to a municipality or region in Bulgaria.
The EIB loan will help to implement the Sofia municipality’s Master Plan, which is a crucial document for the city’s future development. The investment will improve the quality of services to passengers and increase the attractiveness of public transport. It will contribute to reducing Sofia’s traffic congestion by encouraging a shift from private car to public transport usage.
The EIB funds will co-finance the extensions of Sofia Metro, totalling some 12.8 km of new metro lines and 13 stations, the acquisition of 15 new trains for the operation of the new sections and additional investments upgrading the road network and the parking system linked to the metro. It is expected that after the project implementation the number of the Sofia metro’s passengers will increase to one million a day.
EIB Vice-President Mrs Marta Gajecka, responsible for EIB lending in central Europe, including Bulgaria, commented: “This loan will help to increase transport capacity, safety and passenger comfort in Sofia, one of the most important cities on the Balkan Peninsula. It will contribute to maintaining the dynamism of the economic growth of the Sofia region, strengthen its competitiveness and have a significant impact on the quality of the city’s environment. At the same time it confirms the priority given by the Bank to lending to the local authorities of the new Member States”.
In detail, the project comprises the design, construction and commissioning of:
- the first section of the Sofia Metro line 1 extension in the direction of the Airport and “Mladost residential area – Tzarigradsko Shose blvd”, 2.2 km long with 2 stations;
- the first section of Sofia Metro line 2 “Road Junction Nadezhda – Cherni Vrah blvd”, connecting the railway station and the city centre, 6.5 km long with 7 stations. This section of line 2 in the centre of the city is being prepared with the assistance of JASPERS, the technical assistance initiative of the EIB and the European Commission for co-financing under the Structural Funds.
- the section of Sofia Metro line 2 “Obelya residential area – Road Junction Nadezhda”, connecting the northern part of the city and providing line 2 with the connection to the depot, 4.13 km long with 4 stations.
The task of the EIB, the European Union’s financing institution, is to contribute to the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the Member States by financing sound investment. Since 1990, the EIB’s financing in Bulgaria has totalled approximately EUR 2.8 billion.
The Bulgarian capital Sofia, with its 1.2 million inhabitants, accounts for some 16% of the country’s population. The city has a leading role in the Bulgarian economy with more than 30% of the national GDP.