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16 September 2006 13:41
Morocco plans Arab world’s first high-speed train
(AFP)

15 September 2006


RABAT - Work on the Arab world’s first high-speed train -- stretching from the Mediterranean to the door of the Sahara desert -- could begin next year, the head of Morocco’s rail company said.


The trains would travel at up to 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour, slashing times from Tangier in the north via Marrakesh to Agadir in the south, and from Casablanca on the Atlantic to Oujda on the Algerian border.

“Marrakesh to Tangier in two and a half hours -- it’s as if the country’s shrinking,” rail operator ONCF’s managing director Mohamed Rabie Khlie told Reuters in an interview.

“A high-speed rail network will put us in the rail industry’s big league.”

If the plans are approved, the 1,500 kilometres of track may take until 2030 to complete at a cost of around 25 billion dirhams ($2.87 billion), Khlie said.

Improving transport links from the centre of the kingdom to long-neglected outlying regions is an important part of the government’s attempt to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment and poverty.

A better rail network would also relieve congestion on Morocco’s roads, where around 10 people die every day in accidents.

Once financing for the new lines is sealed, engineering work could begin in the second half of 2007, Khlie said.

Journeys from Casablanca to Marrakesh could be cut to 1 hour and 20 minutes from over three hours, and from the capital Rabat to Tangier to 1 hour and 30 minutes from 4 hours and 30 minutes.

And Khlie said plans mooted years ago for a tunnel from Europe to Africa across the strait of Gibraltar were still on course, meaning trains may one day travel direct from Madrid to Marrakesh.

“A Moroccan-Spanish committee is working very hard on this issue and it’s going very well,” he said. “We feel quite a clear willingness on the Spanish side to push things forward.”

Network expansion

According to media reports earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates is studying the feasibility of a high-speed rail line between its airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

But Khlie said ONCF was the only train company in the Arab world with the financial health and technical capabilities needed to launch a high-speed rail project.

After years of restructuring with the help of loans from the World Bank, European Investment Bank and foreign governments, ONCF began turning a consolidated profit from 2004, giving it the financial muscle to embark on a broad expansion.

It plans to invest 15.5 billion dirhams in the 2005-09 period, as much as was spent in the previous 25 years, to expand and improve a cumbersome infrastructure, parts of which have changed little since the days of the French protectorate.

ONCF will acquire the status of a company next year, with a 50-year concession to operate the existing national network.

Under plans to liberalise the rail sector, private companies could be contracted to build and operate future rail lines that would link up with ONCF’s network, Khlie said.

But he played down the idea that the government may split ONCF’s infrastructure and operations activities, an option chosen by some European rail firms, or even privatise it.

“Nothing stops ONCF being brought to the stock market as long as the state keeps overall control,” he said. “The priority today is not any privatisation but to develop the network.”
k
16 September 2006 20:09
that's good news, indeed: last time i took the train from tangiers to marrakesh, it took me over 10 hours to complete the journey! however,i'm wondering why it would take this long to extend the network. 2030 is way too far.......for a country that relies so heavily on tourism, it's just a plain shame. but anyway......
z
17 September 2006 01:23
I think the entire network would be completed by 2030, I am assuming they will open parts of the network as soon as it is ready, the same way they are doing with the highways.
Y
17 September 2006 04:28
OF course that's great news!
However, They could give the project to the the Japanese or the South Koreans who are the best in the busniess nowadays! the Koreans would finish that project in no more than 5 years! Having such attitude about finishing early would make it easier to pay for it! It would also set a precedent for the countries commitment to improving the Tourism sector giving it a Solid case to host Sports events and the...
Just think about the lost opportunities they missed because the infrastructure is Weak to say the least!
+ it is a winning project they won't have a problem getting the extra money to pay bonuses for finishing it early! IT also, would solve the immediate problem the coutry is suffering from: Unemployment!
z
17 September 2006 06:17
not only that, if they build the gibraltar tunnel, Madrid would be 5 hours from Rabat. South spain even less. Dreaming here, but who knows? Smiling Smiley
k
18 September 2006 18:56
Quote
zaki7
not only that, if they build the gibraltar tunnel, Madrid would be 5 hours from Rabat. South spain even less. Dreaming here, but who knows? Smiling Smiley
yeah, who knows? we all need hope..... and last time i looked, dreaming never hurt anyone.... however, i do have some reserves regarding the relevance of a gibraltar tunnel: except for tourists and mres, who would it benefit, knowing that most morrocans don't travel abroad, owing to the difficulties in getting a visa, or in funding such a trip. not that i'm against it, as i'm lucky enough to be in a position to travel freely, but then i just fear that it may be the kind of project that makes people feel that they're paying for something they will never be able to use, thus creating a lot of frustration and resentment. what do you think?
a
18 September 2006 20:51
I dont trust people behind the project, think the high way tanger assila in not done yet "like 45 km", settat to Marakech not done yet.. we are not talking marakech agadir that project became a dream.

now railway all way in Morocco... i guess somebody is drinking in "SHA3BAN".

Everybody knows solide road connection, will lead the country to a 50 years in the front.
you know, how many problem that will solve: good communication between cities, post, GOODS will arrive faster,
"now you send a lettre with in casablanca it took 3 days, if it arrives at all"
more jobs apportunities, people wont be crowded in one town "it means you can work in one city and live in other one, when rent is cheaper in small towns"--etc..

but i fell like the gouvernement dont want to solve problems.

for 2 years ago kuwait came with a project to build the highway in returne to have 20 years road payment..the gouverment refuse the idea. i guess they except allah yarham alwalidine as paiment mode.

I hope this will come true...may be my grandkids one fine day they will take the train to agadir. until then i am relaying on WHITE TAXI is dangerous but always arrive before his time.
Aziz_dk
z
19 September 2006 02:27
I don't think we need 30 millions moroccans to travel to build a tunnel. If the studies show that it is viable with the number of people that are already crossing and I believe if we stick onnly to the number of MRE who come every year, the project will be viable. Not even talking about all the transportation of goods that will be much easier for thousands of Moroccan companies. Believe me, if you have a company and know that your product can hit the road from Casablanca to Europe by truck or train in hours and will save you money compared to shipping it airborne, it is a huge advantage.

Not talking about tourists too...

Quote
khadijaox81
Quote
zaki7
not only that, if they build the gibraltar tunnel, Madrid would be 5 hours from Rabat. South spain even less. Dreaming here, but who knows? Smiling Smiley
yeah, who knows? we all need hope..... and last time i looked, dreaming never hurt anyone.... however, i do have some reserves regarding the relevance of a gibraltar tunnel: except for tourists and mres, who would it benefit, knowing that most morrocans don't travel abroad, owing to the difficulties in getting a visa, or in funding such a trip. not that i'm against it, as i'm lucky enough to be in a position to travel freely, but then i just fear that it may be the kind of project that makes people feel that they're paying for something they will never be able to use, thus creating a lot of frustration and resentment. what do you think?
z
19 September 2006 02:32
I would have sworn that Tanger Asilah was completed. Anybody can shed a light on that?

All the details about this are here:

[www.mtpnet.gov.ma]
a
19 September 2006 11:50
There working on it but yet finished.

I drove in July to Morocco, after like 20 or 30 km from Tangier I found the highway. they told me too that is finished, but i just see workers and dusty road.. no highway.


in the link you send "ZAKI7" it showen is not finished.

any way it can be may wrong... but I doubt it .
Aziz_dk
A
28 September 2006 14:16
by the way it would be better to have a train connection between Agadir and Marrakech than havin this murderous Roods. You must know that the dangeroust rood in Morocco is Agadir-->Marrakech. They don't do nothing for this region, I don't know why?

But one thing If they want the economie grows up in the south than build real roods not killer roods.
c
28 September 2006 15:19
Amadou, if you mean the one through Imintanout, Amskroud then Aït Melloul, you're right, it's one of the most dangerous. But there's a highway in construction which is supposed to be complete by 2010.
 
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