Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The Moroccan TGV – Future spearhead for economic development

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Friday, March 10th 2017 à 15:45 | Read 3197 times

MOROCCO. In one year's time, the first Moroccan TGV high-speed train will put Tangiers at only 1 hr 20 mins from Casablanca, the first step in a high-speed rail development strategy that will see 1500 km of new track built. javascript:void(0)

Eventually, the high-speed line network will cover 1500 km (photo : F.Dubessy)
Eventually, the high-speed line network will cover 1500 km (photo : F.Dubessy)
MOROCCO. As testing on the Moroccan TGV (begun in February 2017) continues, the Moroccan state is seeing this project, undertaken by the Moroccan state railways company (ONCF), as a trump card in the country's development and planning strategy.

Morocco's first high-speed rail line (LGV) should enter service in the summer of 2018. Linking Tangiers with Kenitra, it will allow trains to travel at 320 km/h, the first step in a huge programme designed to develop rail transport in Morocco by linking the Mediterranean and Atlantic seaboards by 2030. The line will feed into the existing network to put Tangiers at 2 hrs 10 min from Casablanca and 1 hr 20 min from Rabat, against 3 ¼ and 4 ¾ hours respectively today. Six million passengers per year are expected to use this 200 km-long line.
The first Moroccan TGV line will create 2500 direct and indirect jobs during the operational phase, while 330 engineers (60% Moroccan) –and soon to be 450- are already working on the project.

20 billion dirham in investment

The Moroccan high-speed line project covers a total of 1500 km of track and also includes Casablanca-Oujda (3 hours) and Tangiers-Casablanca- Agadir (4 hours).

A Marrakesh-Agadir line is also on the drawing board, as is a Rabat-Madrid TGV (4 hours), which would put Paris at eight hours from Rabat, subject to the Gibraltar tunnel project going through.
According to the ONCF, high-speed rail should increase rail passenger numbers in Morocco to 133 million, against a projected 52 million if the project had not been adopted. In addition to bringing the main cities closer to each other, it will contribute to developing the economy.

This first link in the Moroccan TGV chain called for an overall investment package of 20 billion dirhams (€1.8bn), including 10 billion for the rail infrastructure, 5.6 billion for track equipment and 4.4 billion for rolling stock. Added to this is the sum of €1.2 bn for upgrading the existing ONCF lines. The project was labelled the most expensive infrastructure project in Africa by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited in February, 2017. According to the firm's report, the LGV between Tangiers and Casablanca will have cost US$4bn (€3.8bn) by the time it opens in 2018.
The main financial backers are the Moroccan state (4.8 billion dirhams €450M) and several Arab funds (€380M), including the Arab Fund for Economic and Social development (AFESD) to the tune of 864 million dirhams (€81M). France also contributed: in November, 2008, Paris agreed a €625M loan and again recently (at COP 22 in November, 2016) with the signing of a protocol of €70M for the financing of intellectual services for the project. The FASEP (a French Treasury fund aimed at the private sector) also contributed €75M and the French Development Agency (AFD) €220M.

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