This move follows the French law for a new rail pact dated 27 June 2018, which opened up passenger rail services to competition.
The Grand Est Region, serving as the Public Transport Authority, has opted to acquire the TER trains from SNCF Voyageurs. In line with this, a local public company, Grand Est Mobilités, was established, with the Grand Est Region being its main shareholder. This entity is tasked with managing and financing the acquisition and maintenance of the TER fleet in the region.
A 42-year concession agreement has been set up between the Region and Grand Est Mobilités. Under this agreement, the Region will subsidize the costs of Grand Est Mobilités over this period in exchange for an amount equating to the book value of the trains.
For financing this project, Grand Est Mobilités secured a structured financing arrangement amounting to €1.2 billion. This funding was provided by a consortium of lenders, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), an institutional investor, and five commercial banks, with the Crédit Agricole Group playing a significant role.
Grand Est Region is the first of its kind in the country to finance and manage a TER fleet, potentially setting a precedent for other regions. The establishment of such a financing structure is crucial for the region to meet its future expenses competitively and ensures fairness among all rail operators.