The mega-project is reviving hopes for “further integration” of the Maghreb countries.
Rabat – The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) hosted a seminar on Wednesday, March 27, in Tunis to present the Trans-Maghreb Railway Line project.
The seminar, chaired by Taieb Baccouche, the secretary-general of the AMU, discussed the rehabilitation and modernization of railways in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia as part of the planned cross-border railway line.
The project involves constructing a new crossborder railway from Annaba, Algeria, to Jendouba, Tunisia; modernizing the Jendouba-Jdeida railway line in Tunisia; modernizing the railway line connecting Fez and Oujda in Morocco; and rehabilitating the line between Oujda and Akid Abbes, Algeria.
Participants discussed the ways for private and public agencies to finance and implement the Maghreb railway project.
The AMU said in February that it had received the financial support of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to fund the preparatory activities of the project railway.
Through the project, the AMU hopes to create a Maghreb economic union that will take charge of managing goods and passenger traffic between the three countries.
The project will strengthen the economic and social integration of the citizens of the region, according to an AMU statement. It will facilitate job creation and support national economies.
The $3.8 billion railway line is expected to span over 2,350 kilometers, according to Al Jazeera.
According to Railways Africa, the overall project is expected to link Casablanca to Tripoli, and is only set to finish in 2060. Once the Casablanca-Tripoli railway is complete, it would take 15 hours to travel between the two cities.
In addition to its “economic and trade” benefits, the project would drive the Maghreb countries to further integration, which would help “sustain peace and security” in the Euro-Mediterranean area, the former head of the Rapid Rail Network (RFR) of Greater Tunis, Kamel Ben Amor, told the Arab Weekly news outlet.
Representatives of the AfDB, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, the Maghreb Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade (BMICE), and global and regional banks attended the meeting.
The general director of the Algerian National Railway Transport company (SNTF), Yacine Bendjaballah, proposed the project in 2015. Morocco’s border with Algeria has been closed nearly continuously since 1994.
Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia have national rail networks constructed under the French colonial rule decades ago.
Morocco has other rail extension ideas beyond the Maghreb line.
In February, Morocco and Spain announced they were studying the possibility ofto connecting the two countries through an intercontinental railway line. The study phase will take one to two years, said Morocco’s State Secretary to the Minister of Equipment, Transport, and Logistics Mohamed Najib Boulif.