#Morocco to Expand High Speed Rail, Require $11b

The budget will help Morocco expand the high-speed rail to connect major stations, including the Kenitra-Marrakech and Marrakech-Agadir destinations.

Morocco’s government shared estimation regarding the budget the country needs to expand its high-speed rail system.

On Tuesday, Morocco’s Minister of Equipment Abdelkader Amara said that the high-speed rail (TGV) to link Kenitra to Marrakech will require a budget of MAD 40 billion ($4.45 billion).

Meanwhile, the official said that the project to expand the high-speed rail between Marrakech and Agadir will require MAD 50 billion ($5.57 billion) as part of the railway program to be completed by 2040.

Amara estimated that the total budget for both projects will reach MAD 100 billion ($11 billion).

Morocco launched its high-speed train in 2018. King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron and King Mohammed VI took a ride through the train to mark its inauguration.

Called Al Boraq, Morocco’s bullet train is Africa’s first high-speed rail.

The train currently stops in  four stations, including Casablana, Rabat, Kenitra, and Tangier.

A Rabat-Tangier trip via a bus or a car usually takes over four hours. Al Boraq, meanwhile, takes passengers to the Northern city in only two hours. 

The train’s average passengers rate reached 8,250 per day in 2019.

Morocco’s government took loans from France and different partners to launch the €2 billion high-speed rail project. 

Countries like  Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE also gave funding for the rail line. 

Al-Boraq’s revenue is paying for its operating expenses.

Morocco spent over  MAD 5.8 billion (€540 million) on the rail’s construction. 

The Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development also contributed MAD 1 billion (€94 million).

Several organizations commended Morocco’s infrastructure reforms.

Omio, an online travel booking company for train, flight, bus, and ferry tickets recently ranked Morocco’s high speed train 12th out of 20 similar projects. 

With the success story of Al Boraq, Morocco is thinking of expanding railway projects to include stops in other major cities, including Marrakech and Agadir.

The two cities receive millions of tourists every year.

The Moroccan government has launched studies to explore the feasibility of railway expansion after King Mohammed VI stressed the importance of infrastructure development during his 2019 Green March speech.

On November 6, 2019, the King said: “ I invite the authorities concerned to give serious thought to the development of a rail link between Marrakech and Agadir, as a first step before extending it to the rest of the southern regions.”

He also urged the government to  expand the road network. 

“The railway line will contribute to opening up the regions concerned, in addition to stimulating development and economic prosperity, especially with regard to the transport of people and goods and the promotion of exports, tourism, and other economic activities,” he said.

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