NEW CREDIT guarantees to be issued for infrastructure projects by the European Investment Bank are likely to favour cross-border schemes designed as public-private partnerships such as the Brenner base tunnel.

Last month Stefaan de Rynck, a spokesman for European Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot, cited the Brenner base tunnel as one scheme likely to benefit from the guarantees. This will no doubt lend encouragement to Hans Lindenberger, appointed earlier this year as Chairman of Brennerbasistunnelgesellschaft, who told Die Presse on March 2 that he was confident the tunnel would be built by 2015. He put the construction cost at €5bn, to which must be added financing costs yet to be determined - a funding concept is due to be drawn up by the summer. So far 33 of 40 planned test bores have been completed or are in hand, moving the scheme close to the requirement for design to be finished by 2006.

Meanwhile, a fresh attempt is being made to revive plans for the Semmering base tunnel, with an agreement reached at a summit on March 8 between ÖBB Chairman Martin Huber, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, Infrastructure Minister Hubert Gorbach, and the governors of Nieder