EIB lends Brussels 475m euros for new metro line
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending 475 million euros to Brussels for a new metro line linking the city's North and Midi stations.
Metro line 3 will replace an existing pre-metro line and is intended to take passengers from the north to the south of the capital in 20 minutes.
The EIB loan is the second tranche of 475 million euros granted to the Brussels Region to finance the project. The first tranche was granted for the financing of buses, trams and metros.
The second tranche is specifically earmarked to finance the now "well-advanced" line from the Albert pre-metro station via Midi to Brussels North, said Brussels Mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt.
The EIB signed the loan agreement with the Brussels government and public transport operator STIB on Thursday. The loan will be repaid over a period of 25 years.
The southern part of the metro line is due to be completed by 2025 and the northern part by 2032. The project has faced many obstacles in recent years, with costs exploding and plans having to be radically altered.
One of the changes to the plan would see the demolition of all but the facades of the Palais du Midi, a former covered public market that now houses shops and restaurants. The much-criticised plan is the subject of a public inquiry.
'Brussels is changing'
EIB vice-president Kris Peeters is convinced that criticism is part and parcel of major infrastructure projects. "We know that there are many hurdles to overcome in the implementation of the works, but that does not stop us from providing this loan," he said.
Van den Brandt thanked the EIB for investing in the STIB network "and for its trust in the region". "The budget is high, but this project ensures that the region will ultimately win in terms of mobility and congestion, air quality and stress," she said. "Investing in alternatives is important. Brussels is changing."