The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a loan agreement worth CZK 24 billion (EUR 992 million) for the upgrade of Czech railway network.
Through Správa železnic, the national railway infrastructure manager the loan will support the modernisation and retrofit of trans-European networks (TEN-T) railway lines in the country and enable the deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).
The agreement was signed by the Czech Minister of Finance Zbyněk Stanjura which said that “the use of a loan from the European Investment Bank is the most economical and efficient solution to obtain funds for a strategic investment such as the digitalisation and automation of railway transport, given the current level of the general government budget deficit.
As part of the broad programme that the EIB funding will finance, Správa železnic will improve the safety of level crossings on the network, retrofit maintenance vehicles with ERTMS equipment, and strengthen the company’s cyber-security. The investment also includes works in railway stations and railway buildings to improve their accessibility for people with reduced mobility and people travelling with children.
The signed facility is the first concrete financing result of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed In November 2022 with both ministries to establish a partnership to finance the modernisation of Czech railway network. Under the memorandum, the EIB may also provide technical assistance to Správa železnic, with support already being provided under its JASPERS mandate. The financing is expected to accelerate an increased use of rail transport, with clear environmental benefits over traditional road transport.
“The development of high-quality railways is key for the Czech Republic on a domestic and Central European scale. Multi-source financing of these projects that are necessary for the prosperity of the country is currently the right choice. Investments for the future must not stop,” Minister of Transport Martin Kupka said.
The loan will be used for projects such as the modernisation of Prague’s Masaryk train station as well as the important Karlštejn – Beroun line.
Modernising the railway lines will increase both maximum speeds and capacity on sections of the TEN-T network, which is expected to improve connectivity between EU regions. The operation consists of around 40 sub-projects in different parts of the country, which are part of the Czech Republic’s “Unified Railway Framework” plan for 2023-2027.