King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated Morocco’s first LGV high-speed train this afternoon in Tangier.
Rabat – The 200-kilometer-long high speed train will link Casablanca and Tangier in two hours and 10 minutes instead of the normal five-hour train ride.
The LGV departed from Tangier on its way to Rabat with King Mohammed VI and Macron taking the first ride.
The flagship train, which represents strong bilateral ties between Morocco and France, is being driven by a Moroccan rail engineer, who was trained among others in France, according to Jeune Afrique.
During testing, the train reached a speed record of 357 kilometers per hour in May.
Morocco’s “Al Boraq” high speed service will average 320 kilometers per hour between Tangier and Kenitra, a city north of Rabat, and will drop its speed to 160 kilometers per hour from Kenitra to Casablanca, the pan-African magazine added.
The Moroccan government allocated MAD 5.8 billion to the rail’s construction. The Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development contributed MAD 1 billion.
The French government offered loans of 51 percent of the €2 billion overall cost.
The French government financed the project via several loans, including an initial investment by the French Development Agency (AFD) of €220 million.
Morocco later received a loan of €80 million from AFD to fund the last segment of the Tangier-Casablanca high -speed train project in October 2017.
According to Jeune Afrique, Morocco’s railway operator (ONCF) also received funds from several Gulf countries, including a €144 million loan from the Saudi Fund for Development and a €100 million loan from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development has also loaned the project €86 million, and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development loaned €70 million.
A number of French companies also contributed in the construction of the project, including SNCF, which managed the project, and the Egis Group which took over the civil engineering.
Systra, a subsidiary of SNCF, built the rails while Alstom built 12 trains.
ONCF will announce the LGV ticket prices on Friday, November 16.
The train was originally scheduled to be finished in 2015 but was later postponed to 2017. After a series of delays, however, the project was completed and launched today from Tangier.
The project will increase its passenger capacity from 3 million per year to more than 60 million starting in the third year.
In the operational phase, Morocco’s LGV is expected to generate 1,500 direct and 800 indirect jobs.
According to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), the partnership led to the creation of the Railway Training Institute (IFF) in Rabat for railway workers from Morocco, France, and other countries in the region, as well as a joint venture between ONCF and France’s SNCF to maintain high-speed trains, while allowing ONCF to gradually gain skills in this area.