DARS gets EIB loan to build second tube of Karavanke tunnel
The loan represents roughly half of the investment value of the entire project, which also involves renovation of the existing single-tube tunnel after the second tube is completed, said DARS chairman Tomaž Vidic.
The second half will be financed with own funds and additional loans that Vidic said would be much easier to secure now that the project is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.
Construction of the second tube is expected to finally start in March after a years-long bidding process resulted in the now final choice of Turkish builder Cengiz.
The price tag of the 3.5 kilometres of tunnel on the Slovenian side of the border is EUR 98.6 million, VAT excluded. The Austrian section is almost a kilometre longer and construction has been ongoing for over a year.
DARS and EIB are also in talks on a new loan agreement for the Third Development Axis, a planned north-south expressway that is designed to improve the road connections of some of Slovenia's poorest regions.
While Vidic is optimistic about EIB involvement, he acknowledged that there were problems since the expressway is not a part of any trans-European transport corridors.
The Karavanke loan is the 13th loan DARS has taken out with EIB. Six have already been paid up in full.