EBRD co-finances extension of light-rail network in Izmir

By Olga Rosca

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€157 million project to improve public transport for four million people

Turkey’s third-largest city, Izmir, is expanding its light-rail system with a comprehensive financing package put together by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and its partners.
To meet growing demand Izmir is investing €157 million in a significant expansion of its urban transport network. The EBRD is co-financing the project with a €38.5 million loan. The International Finance Corporation and Agence Française de Développement are expected to join in with parallel loans of €20 million each. In addition, ING Bank is expected to lend another €38.5 million backed by a guarantee from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. The city of Izmir is investing €40 million from its own funds.
The investment programme will focus on the expansion of a light-rail system through the acquisition of 85 light-rail transit vehicles. The new transport system, launched in 2000, presently covers a network of 19 kilometres. Its 77 vehicles serve 200,000 passengers per day.
With a growing population of almost four million people and a booming tourism, Izmir, on Turkey’s Aegean coast, is in ever-growing need of better public transport that will provide a viable alternative to polluting car travel on the city’s congested roads.
The EBRD loan comes with over €1 million in grant financing from the Bank’s own funds and from the Slovak government to support local authorities in the implementation of the project.
Jean-Patrick Marquet, EBRD Director, Municipal and Environmental Infrastructure, said: “The new investment will more than double Izmir’s fleet of light-rail carriages to make services more frequent and commuting faster and more comfortable, improving the quality of life in a city of four million. A less-polluting alternative to cars, the improved light-rail network will make the city cleaner and residents more mobile. The EBRD will work with the local and national authorities to find innovative ways to finance urban transport in Izmir to ensure sustainability.”
The EBRD has previously provided a €33 million loan to Izmir’s municipal ferry operator Izdeniz to buy three car ferries and build four wharves and a maintenance facility in a move to make the city’s sea transport more efficient, encouraging residents to avoid congested roads.
The Bank started investing in Turkey in 2009 and currently operates from offices in Istanbul, Ankara and Gaziantep. To date, the EBRD has invested over €4 billion in the country across 126 projects in infrastructure, energy, agribusiness, industry and finance. In just five years the EBRD’s portfolio in Turkey has become one of the largest among the countries where the Bank works.
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