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Morocco issues tender for high-speed rail to Marrakech

An Al Boraq high-speed train at Tangier-Ville station. The line opened in 2018 and runs to Casablanca NicholasNCE/Creative Commons/Wikimedia
An Al Boraq high-speed train at Tangier-Ville station. The line opened in 2018 and runs to Casablanca
  • 375km line planned
  • $37bn strategy for rail
  • Deadline set for June

Morocco has issued a tender for a high-speed rail link as part of its $37 billion strategy to connect more of its cities, ports and airports by train.

The national rail operator ONCF is seeking companies to build a 375km line, which will stretch from Kenitra on the northwest coast to Marrakech in the south. 

The project, which is being offered in seven lots of between 36km and 64km, will cross metropolitan areas of Rabat-Salé, Casablanca and Marrakech.

The tender includes the design and construction of the railway to accommodate trains travelling at up to 350km per hour, as well as stations, signalling and telecommunications and a maintenance centre in Marrakech.

Companies have until June 23 to submit their interest to ONCF.

The rail operator appointed construction engineering specialist Egis as general consultant on the project in 2022, according to the International Railway Journal.

The high-speed line is part of the $37 billion plan to improve Morocco’s rail network, which aims to connect a total of 43 cities and create 300,000 jobs by 2040. It is hoped that 87 percent of the population will have access to rail transport by that date, compared to just over 50 percent today.

Morocco’s rail network has 1,200km of track, according to the US government’s International Trade Administration. About 120 stations serve passengers and 15 serve freight. Cities such as Agadir, Fez, Marrakech and Tangier are also planning to build tram or light rail lines, the US agency said.

Last November, five years after the launch of Morocco’s first high-speed line – Al Boraq, which connects Tangier to Casablanca – ONCF said it was planning to order 168 trains including 18 high-speed vehicles.

The delivery schedule is spread between 2027 and 2030, according to ONCF. The rail operator said improved services were important for Morocco as it prepares to co-host the 2030 World Cup.

In December leaders from the UAE and Morocco signed a declaration aimed at boosting bilateral trade, including a commitment to invest in high-speed trains.

Samer Talhouk, a country risk analyst at BMI, told AGBI at the time that the Moroccan transport and logistics sector was of particular interest to the UAE.

The agreement would “bolster Morocco’s position as a key exporter to Europe and enhance the kingdom’s efforts to position itself as a hub for foreign investment,” he said.

The World Bank predicts that GDP growth in Morocco will reach 3.1 percent this year, 3.3 percent in 2025 and 3.5 percent in 2026 as domestic demand gradually recovers from shocks such as the earthquake in September 2023

Foreign direct investment inflows “remain strong and increasingly directed towards the manufacturing sector”, it said.

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