The first €100 million instalment of a €300 million loan to finance the Brittany-Loire Region high-speed rail project in France has been signed by the European Investment Bank (EIB).

It was signed in Rennes by EIB vice president Philippe de Fontaine Vive and Pierrick Massiot, president of the Brittany Region.

This signature brings the EIB’s total contribution to the financing of the Brittany-Loire Region high-speed rail project to €853 million, which it said confirmed its position as the leading public investor in this major Trans-European Network (TEN-T) upgrading and extension project.

The EIB’s contribution initially took the form of a €553 million 25-year loan to a consortium led by Eiffage, which is responsible for building and ensuring the availability of the line under a public-private partnership (PPP) contract.

This EIB operation will now be backed up by direct loans to the Brittany Region, the lead regional authority financier of the Brittany-Loire Region high-speed rail project, and the broader Brittany High Speed project.

In a contracting loan market, these long-maturity EIB loans on favourable terms are said to have proved crucial in enabling the Brittany Region to optimise the project’s overall finance plan.

This operation will help to finance the construction of a 182km high-speed rail line between Le Mans and Rennes, along with 32km of connecting lines.

The Brittany-Loire Region high-speed rail project represents the extension to Rennes and Nantes of the Paris-Le Mans high-speed train line opened in 1989. Its aim is to substantially improve train services to Brittany and the Loire Region, and journey times from Paris to Rennes will be cut by 37 minutes to under an hour and a half.

This project is key component of the eventual plans to reduce the journey time from Paris to the westernmost tip of Brittany to three hours.

Under the Brittany Region’s broader high-speed rail project, Brittany High Speed, the Rennes-Brest and Rennes-Quimper lines will also be upgraded to provide more frequent and faster rail services all the way to Cape Finisterre. This project is scheduled for delivery in September 2016, with the commercial opening of the new high-speed line planned for May 2017.

Pierrick Massiot said, “Brittany is one of the regional authorities that has invested most in building this infrastructure, which is essential to opening up our region. Considering the amounts at stake – €830 million worth of regional investment under the Brittany High Speed project – obtaining reduced interest rate loans from the EIB was vital to the success of this project.”

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