THE European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a Koruna 13bn ($US 564m) loan agreement with the Czech Ministry of Finance, which will enable infrastructure manager SZ to continue to install ERTMS and make other safety improvements.

SZ will also use the latest tranche of EIB funding to improve level crossing safety, either by replacing them with bridges or underpasses or installing barriers. EIB says that this programme could avoid up to 180 level crossing accidents causing 30-40 fatalities a year.

EIB loan funding will also be allocated to accessibility improvements at stations, comprising 40 sub-projects scheduled to be completed by the end of 2028. The majority will be undertaken in areas receiving investment under European Union (EU) cohesion policy, and 25% will take place in the Prague region.

Overall, the latest tranche of funding will benefit 90 million passengers a year and facilitate the movement of over 8 million tonnes of freight a year. In October the EIB agreed to lend Koruna 24bn to the Czech Ministry of Finance for modernisation of Trans-European Network (TEN-T) lines in the Czech Republic.

“Our financing for the Czech railway system has a dual benefit,” says said EIB vice-president, Mr Kyriacos Kakouris.

“It will render transport options in the country more sustainable and it will support regional development in EU areas with lower economic activity.”

“Modernising and increasing the capacity of our railway infrastructure ranks among the main priorities of our government,” says Czech minister of transport, Mr Martin Kupka.

“The need for investment, however, exceeds the possibilities of our national budget. The EIB loan will enable us to progress faster and on a much larger scale so that our railway network offers higher-quality passenger and freight transport.”

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