Casablanca—Tangier high-speed rail line
|Line length||350 km (220 mi)|
|No. of tracks||Double track|
|Electrification||25 kV 50 Hz|
|Operating speed||320 km/h (200 mph)|
The Casablanca—Tangier high-speed rail line is a high-speed rail line under construction in Morocco. This was decided in November 2007 by the national government after a roadmap performed in 2005 by the Morocco's rail company ONCF. ONCF plans to deploy 1500 km of high speed lines in next three decades. The first step of this project is under progress between Tangier and Kenitra to be ended in 2015, until this date a first upgrade (220 km/h) is programmed for the existent line Kenitra–Casablanca. After 2020 the Kenitra–Casablanca (320 km/h) will be performed and Casablanca–Marrakech line will be upgraded in the same time to permit Tangier–Casablanca in 1h30 and Tangier–Marrakech in 2h45. In early 2009, a cooperation contract between Morocco's rail company ONCF and French rail company SNCF was signed to cooperate on the project.
Sources of finance (20 billion dirhams total):
- The government: 4.8 bn dirhams
- French and European sources: 1.9 bn dirhams,
- Loans: 12.3 bn dirhams.
- Infrastructure: 10 bn dirhams
- Railway equipment: 5.6 bn dirhams
- Rolling stock: 4.4 bn dirhams
In February 2010 ONCF signed agreements financing the construction of the 20bn dirham high-speed line between Tangier and Casablanca. Work was expected to start at the end of 2011, with services beginning in December 2015. The foundation stone of the project was laid on 29 September 2011, with the first phase to be operational in 2015.
The line is to be constructed in two sections—a new route from Tangier to Kénitra and an upgrade of the existing route from Kénitra to Casablanca. There will be a top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph) on the new line and 220 km/h (140 mph) on the upgraded line. Upon completion, the travel time between Casablanca and Tangier will be reduced from five hours and 45 minutes to two hours and ten minutes. A potential second phase would see a new track built between Kénitra and Casablanca and upgrade Casablanca - Marrakech to set 1h30 Tangier - Casablanca and 1h05 Casablanca - Marrakech and then link Tangier to Marrakech in less than three hours (10 hours today).
The project has attracted criticism for being a misguided use of money when there are more serious problems than transport facing Morocco. The country's former finance minister, Mohamed Berrada, said that a better use of the money spent on the rail line would be to address poverty and illiteracy.