Morocco’s King, French President Inaugurate Africa’s first high speed train

King Mohammed VI of Morocco and French President Emmanuel Macron proceeded Thursday from the revamped railway station in Tangier to the official launch of Africa’s first high-speed train.

The two leaders were offered the first two tickets of the brand new high-speed train before they boarded on an inaugural journey to Rabat.

The train will slash by two-thirds the travel time between Casablanca and Tangier to 2 hours and 10 minutes compared to 4 hours 45min by a regular train.

The Casablanca-Tangier 200 km high-speed link is the first phase in a project that will stretch through 1500 kilometers, connecting Marrakesh and Agadir, two of Morocco’s tourist hubs.

The high-speed railway was built at a cost of €2.1 billion (about 23 billion dirhams). France offered 51% of the funding while the rest was provided by Morocco and several Arab friendly countries’ funds, namely Saudi Arabia (€144 million), Kuwait (€100 million), Abu Dhabi (€70 million) and the Arab Development Fund (€86 million).

The TGV “Al Boraq” has an initial capacity of 523 passengers. The capacity will later be increased to 1,064 passengers after the construction of a double-track line.

When the project reaches its cruising speed, the Moroccan state-owned railway operator, ONCF, expects to operate 15 daily departures to and from Tangier and Casablanca, and believes the number of passengers would grow to 5 to 6 million a year after three years of operation. The average occupancy rate is expected to reach 70%.

Since the King took the throne in 1999, some 70 billion dirhams were spent to develop Morocco’s railways.

Written by