Turkey's third-largest city, Izmir, is expanding its light-rail system with a comprehensive financing package put together by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and its partners.
To meet growing demand, Izmir is investing 157 million euros in a significant expansion of its urban transport network. The EBRD is co-financing the project with a 38.5 million euro loan. The International Finance Corporation and Agence Française de Développement are expected to join in with parallel loans of 20 million euros each. In addition, ING Bank is expected to lend another 38.5 million euros backed by a guarantee from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. The city of Izmir is investing 40 million euros from its own funds.
The investment program will focus on the expansion of a light-rail system through the acquisition of 85 light-rail transit vehicles. The new transport system, launched in 2000, presently covers a network of 19 kilometers. Its 77 vehicles serve 200,000 passengers per day.
The EBRD loan comes with over 1 million euros in grant financing from the bank's own funds and from the Slovak government to support local authorities in the implementation of the project. The EBRD has previously provided a 33 million euro loan to Izmir's municipal ferry operator Izdeniz to buy three car ferries and build four wharves and a maintenance facility in a move to make the city's sea transport more efficient, encouraging residents to avoid congested roads.
The bank started investing in Turkey in 2009 and currently operates from offices in Istanbul, Ankara and Gaziantep. To date, the EBRD has invested over 4 billion euros in the country across 126 projects in infrastructure, energy, agribusiness, industry and finance. In just five years, the EBRD's portfolio in Turkey has become one of the largest among the countries where the bank works.