The Liège tram project is due to be completed in 2022.

BELGIUM: The Tram’Ardent consortium, which is developing the Liège tram project, signed a €200m loan agreement with the European Investment Bank on January 31.

The 30-year loan covers just under half of the total project cost and is guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments.

‘I am pleased to announce that the EIB has mobilised the resources of the Juncker Plan for the financing of this project’, said EIB Director General Jean-Christophe Laloux at the signing ceremony in Namur. ‘This co-operation between the European Commission and the EU bank will help to improve the lives of the people of Liège.’

Last year Opérateur de Transport en Wallonie selected Tram’Ardent as preferred bidder to design, build, finance and maintain the project under a 30-year PPP concession. The consortium comprises Colas Projects, Colas Belgium, Colas Rail and Colas Nord-Est plus CAF and the EIB-backed DIF Infrastructure II fund.

Construction of the 11·7 km line with 21 stops is due to begin in May, with testing expected to start in August 2022 ahead of entry into passenger service in October that year. CAF is supplying 20 trams that are to run without overhead catenary on part of the route. All 20 are due to be delivered by April 2022.

Services are planned to operate every 4½ min in the peaks and every 7½ min off-peak. The design capacity is 4 000 passengers/h per direction.

‘This project, which promotes clean urban mobility, contributes directly to our EU “net zero emissions by 2050” target and I hope that it will inspire other European cities’, said EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.