The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a €600m loan to the Belgian national railway company SNCB to invest in modernising its rolling stock.
The EIB, the financial arm of the European Union, made the investment to support and promote the use of rail over road transport under its priority objective of tackling climate change. The new trains will enter service in September 2018.
The EIB financing, based on a 25-year loan, will cover part of the order SNCB has placed with Bombardier-Alstom for 445 double-decker railcars, which will make it possible to retire old rolling stock while also expanding the SNCB's services.
EIB vice-president Pim van Ballekom said: “A good quality, efficient service, and modern, reliable rolling stock are key to attracting and keeping customers. Getting on track new trains equipped with state-of-the-art transport technologies that provide more seats and ensure greater comfort and safety, and increasing the frequency of service, will help to boost the use of railways in both Belgium and its neighbours.
“Supporting sustainable and innovative transport is one of our top priorities.”
Transport has always been the EIB's biggest sector for investment. In 2016, it invested €12.7 billion in transport-related projects in the EU.
In Belgium, the EIB allocated €2.3bn during 2016 and has invested almost €9bn over the past five years in projects that support the country’s economy.