The European Investment Bank and the Brussels-Capital Region signed €475 million in financing headed to improving public transport offer and quality. The money will be used to procure 94 electric buses (70 articulated buses measuring 18 metres each, and 24 standard buses measuring 12 metres), 90 trams (32 or 43 meters long) and 43 metro trains (94 meters long), and to renew 63 kilometres of tram and metro tracks.

Brussels gets EIB funding for public transport

Travellers and commuters in the Brussels-Capital Region can look forward to big improvements in local public transport. The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the region have signed a €475 million loan agreement (the largest-ever EIB loan in Brussels) to modernise the region’s urban transport fleet and make it more sustainable. The loan will help finance the acquisition of 94 electric buses, 90 trams and 43 metro trains, and the renewal of 63 kilometres of track on existing tram and metro networks.

The regional government is attempting to change the status quo by implementing the Good Move mobility plan, a cornerstone of which is increasing the public transportation offering. Once implemented, the improved infrastructure and new rolling stock financed by the EIB will make public transport services more reliable, regular, frequent and accommodating. The ultimate aim is to make public transport more attractive than driving.

Acquiring the new rolling stock and improving the existing infrastructure are part of a broader carbon footprint reduction strategy by STIB-MIVB, the Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company. By 2030, STIB-MIVB aims to cut carbon emissions by 39% compared to 2010. The new rolling stock will include 94 electric buses (as mentioned above: 70 articulated buses measuring 18 metres each, and 24 standard buses measuring 12 metres), 90 TNG trams (tram de nouvelle generation) measuring 32 or 43 metres, and 43 metro trains measuring 94 metres. The project also covers installing equipment and modifying the existing infrastructure to implement the new trams and metros, as well as renewing 63 kilometres of existing single-track tram and metro lines, thereby improving the serviceability and availability of public transport.

EIB funding for public transport in Brussels

“This partnership with the European Investment Bank is a historic agreement. This loan of 475 million euros will make it possible to finance the purchase of new electric buses, new trams, and metros, and modernise the tracks. Our agreement reinforces an investment policy in favour of public transport in the Brussels Region that has been in place for many years and is part of an overall plan to reduce traffic and increase the public transport service offering in order to improve air quality, increase the attractiveness of the region and the ecological transition,” explained Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region.

Brieuc de Meeûs, CEO of the STIB-MIVB: “Public transport needs these investments. They allow us to continue to strengthen the performance of the current network for the benefit of users while developing the network of tomorrow and adapting to new mobility needs. More vehicles means more capacity and frequency, tens of kilometres of tram tracks will be renewed, which means more safety and comfort for both passengers and local residents, and modernising the metro and building a new line means guaranteeing regularity and access for as many people as possible to the main axis of our network. These investments are essential for the future of mobility in Brussels.”

EIB Vice-President Kris Peeters added, “This is a historical first financial partnership between the EIB and the Brussels-Capital Region, providing a long-term loan of almost half a billion euros — a record figure for the EIB in Brussels. It highlights the alignment of priorities between the EIB and the region in our climate change mitigation and carbon reduction efforts. With this investment, we want to support people in the capital region by making sustainable public transport the easy choice to get to work, school or university, or to travel for leisure. As the EU’s climate bank, we are happy and proud to support the region in this push for sustainability.”

Regional Minister for Mobility Elke van den Brandt remarked, “One sixth of our annual budget is invested in mobility: increasing the frequency and capacity of public transportation, building cycling and walking infrastructure, and investing in road safety. Next to the modal shift, where we convince people to use alternatives for the personal car, we are also deploying a motor shift, to ensure that fossil fuels are replaced by more sustainable alternatives. I am thrilled that the European Investment Bank believes and invests in our project of changing Brussels into a more liveable, people-centred city.”

Brussels minister for Finance and Budget Sven Gatz: “It is the first time that the European Investment Bank partners with the regional government. It shows that a major European financial player also qualitatively supports Brussels investment policy. With this large loan of almost half a billion euros from the EIB, we are further modernising public transport for both metro, bus and tram. With these funds, we will ensure the automation of the metro and the purchase of 43 metro trains, 94 electric buses and 90 trams. Public transport in Brussels will become an even more important mode of transport in the city.”

Brussels, the role of STIB

Public transport has been managed since 1954 by STIB (Societè des Transport Intercommunaux Bruxellois), which has 4 metro lines, 17 tram lines and 66 car lines, 11 of which are night buses. Of the active tram lines, at least 8 qualify as pre-metro or light metro. The service is guaranteed 24 hours a day, every day of the week. The metro line network stretches 40 km, the tram network 147 km and the car network 468 km. The metro train fleet comprises 217 trainsets of the M1-M5 series, built between 1976 and 1999, and 21 trains of the M6 series, built by CAF between 2007 and 2012. There are around 400 trams, of which 50 are Bombardier T 2000 S low-floor cars built between 1993 and 1995, 150 are 30-metre long Flexity Outlooks and another 70 are 41 metres long.
The metro and tram lines form strong networks, intercepting the main poles of attraction, including railway stations, and offer a service that covers more than 20 hours a day, on average from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. (some tram lines start service at around 4.40 a.m.); all lines guarantee passages on average every 5-7 minutes until 8 p.m., when frequencies decrease, with passages every 10-15 minutes.
An interesting and impressive service, which needs the best rolling stock to convince more citizens to abandon their private cars. With this in mind, STIB has therefore planned to purchase new rolling stock, making use of EIB financing.

Highlights

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