The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to provide an investment loan of up to $107.24m (€95m) to railway company Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB) for the development and acquisition of new battery-driven trains.

Starting from December 2024, these trains will take the place of NEB’s diesel locomotives.

The company has placed an order with Siemens for 31 new Mireo Plus B trains for ten East Brandenburg tracks that run between Berlin and the Polish border.

These energy efficient trains will utilise overhead contact lines on the route’s electrified segments to charge the batteries for operating the trains on non-electrified sections.

The trains will eventually operate on zero emissions after the railway starts receiving electricity from renewable sources.

This railway project will also receive support from the European Commission, which will provide funds from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport and the NER programme. 

In addition, the project is said to be one of the first operations to completely fulfil the climate and sustainability requirements of the EU promotional bank.

The funds of EIB will be grouped together with $79.02m (€70m) from KfW IPEX-Bank and up to $38.38m (€34m) from NordLB into a special purpose vehicle (SPV) under the management of Alpha Trains.

Luxembourg leasing firm Alpha Trains will also make an equity contribution.

The SPV will own the trains and lease them to NEB while NordLB will serve as arranger and agent in the funding operation.

Additionally, the trains’ financing will not impact the duration of the operating contract that was signed by Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn and transport association Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB) last summer.

The contract will be valid for 12 years and will begin in December 2024.

EIB vice-president Ambroise Fayolle said: “We are pleased to be able to take such a big step on the road to carbon-neutral regional transport in the surrounding area of Berlin.

“Attractive regional trains are essential for the transition to climate-friendly mobility as they encourage commuters to switch from road to rail, thus avoiding the CO2 emissions and congestion caused by the use of private transport.”

Last month, EIB announced that it will back the acquisition of modern high-speed trains by Trenitalia, part of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA.