Rail transport in Morocco

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Morocco
Train of Morocco.jpg
Train at Rabat City station
Operation
National railwayONCF
Statistics
Ridership38 million per year (2012–13)
Freight36 million tons per year (2012–13)
System length
Total4,225 kilometres (2,625 mi)
Track gauge
Main1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification
3000 V DCMain network
25 kV 50 HzHigh-speed line
Map
Rail network in Morocco.svg
The Moroccan railway network (freight and passenger)

Rail transport in Morocco is operated by the national railway operator ONCF. It was initially developed during the protectorate.

High speed rail[edit]

On 26 November 2018 the first high-speed rail line linking Casablanca and Tangier was launched. It is called Al-Boraq (البُراق‎) in reference to the mythical creature that transported the Islamic prophets. This 323-kilometer-long (201 mi) high-speed rail service is operated by the ONCF. The first of its kind on the African continent, the line was inaugurated on 15 November 2018 by King Mohammed VI of Morocco following over a decade of planning and construction.

The line is constructed in two sections—a new route from Tangier to Kenitra and an upgrade of the existing route from Kenitra to Casablanca.[1] The 186-kilometre-long (116 mi) Tangier–Kenitra line has a top speed of 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph), while the 137-kilometre-long (85 mi) Kenitra–Casablanca line was rated for 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph) when service began, with a planned upgrade to 220 kilometres per hour (140 mph).[2] The trackage from Kenitra to Casablanca is planned to be eventually replaced by a new high-speed right of way, with construction scheduled to begin in 2020.[2]

At the launch of service in 2018, the travel time between Casablanca and Tangier was reduced from 4 hours and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutes.[2] The completion of dedicated high-speed trackage into Casablanca would further reduce the end-to-end travel time to 1 hour and 30 minutes.[2] Al-Boraq trains are scheduled to depart Casablanca and Tangier every hour from 06:00 until 21:00 (from 07:00 on Sundays).

Route Travel time on the old classic railway Travel time in 2018[3] Travel time in 2020[4]
Tangier-Kenitra 3h15 50 min 47 min
Tangier-Rabat 3h45 1h20 1h00
Tangier-Casablanca 4h45 2h10 1h30
Rabat-Casablanca 55 min 50 min 30 min

As of 2019, the rolling stock operating on the line consists of 12 Alstom Euroduplex trainsets, with each set comprising two power cars and eight bilevel passenger cars.[5][2] The passenger capacity is 533 across two first-class cars, five second-class cars, and a food-service car.[5]

The Tangier - Casablanca line is the first phase of what is planned to eventually be a 1,500 kilometers (930 mi) high-speed rail network in Morocco.

Main connections[edit]

The main network for passenger-transport consists of a North–South link from Tangier via Rabat and Casablanca to Marrakech and the East–West connection linking Oujda in the East via Fes to Rabat. The North–South and East–West links interconnect at Sidi-Kacem. Major destinations currently not linked by rail are usually served by Supratours, a bus company operated by the ONCF.[6]

The most important long-distance train services are:

From: To: (and vice versa) via / change at: traveltime[7] Number of trains per day[7]
Casablanca Tangier Al-Boraq trains stop at Rabat-Agdal and Kenitra 2h10m 14 x
Casablanca Fes 3h20m 18 x
Casablanca Oujda direct or via Fes 10h 3 x
(one of them night-train)
Casablanca Nador direct (1x), via Fes or with transfer in Taourirt 8h30m up to
10h
4 trains/day
of which 2 are night-trains
Marrakech Fes 7h10m 8 x
Marrakech Tangier via Casablanca Voyageurs 9h30m 6 x
one direct night-train
Tangier Oujda direct link at daytime
night-train change at Sidi Kacem
10h20m (day)
10h35m (night)
one day train, one night-train
Nador Taourirt gives connection to E–W mainline 1h42m 3 x (the direct night-train
to/from Casablanca doesn't stop in Taourirt)
Casablanca Oued Zem 3h 1 x
Casablanca El Jadida 1h25 8x
Safi Benguerir gives connection to N–S mainline 2h 2x
Train navette rapide (TNR) at Rabat-Ville station

Night trains[edit]

The ONCF operates special night-trains on the long-distance main-line links. The following routes offer night-trains:

These long-distance trains operate with non-motorized passenger cars that have individual compartments. Second class compartments have two couches opposite each other, each couch offering 4 places. In first-class cars each compartment offers 2 × 3 places and foldable arm-rests divides the places. In 1st class, each passenger has a reserved assigned seat.

Each compartment has its own door to the aisle and curtains can be drawn to keep the compartment dark. In the night-trains, passengers in a 2nd class compartment tend to draw the curtains, switch off the lights and close the sliding door, hoping that no passengers will enter their compartment so the existing cabin passengers might have more space. In 1st class, however, each seat is manually assigned. Thus, the system is not used.

When trains are not busy, couches are usually empty, so passengers can lie down at times.

Besides these 'normal' compartments (that are also used on day-time trains and special night-trains) they also offer sleeper-cars with bedrooms/compartments or couchettes. A bed or couchette has fixed price, regardless of the travelling route or distance. Beds and couchettes have to be reserved when tickets are brought.[8]

Bed and couchette-prices Moroccan trains[8]
Type persons Adult Child (up to 12 years old)
(accompanied by an adult)
Bed 1 Dh. 600 Dh. 490
Bed 2 Dh. 450 Dh. 340
Couchette 4 Dh. 350 Dh. 280

Marrakech–Tangier section[edit]

On each day, there is only one train on the Marrakech-Tangier section in each direction. On this route the standard 6 or 8 person compartments are available as well as the 4 person couchette-compartments.

Timetable[8] for this section:
Northbound: Marrakech (21:00), Casablanca Voyageurs (0:45), Rabat-Ville (1:57), Kentira (2:37), Sidi-Kacem (3:33), Tangier (7:25).
Southbound: Tangier (21:05), Sidi-Kacem (1:30), Kentira (2:35), Rabat (3:15), Casablanca (4:30), Marrakech (08:05).

Casablanca–Oujda section[edit]

Besides normal running trains, this section also runs a special hotel train service. This train only offers reserved sleeping compartments, compared to other normal services. The train service opened on 29 June 2010.[8] It was also featured in the James Bond film Spectre.

Timetable for this section:[8]
Northbound: Oudja 21:00, Taorirt (22:43), Fez (3:00), Kentira (4:30), Rabat (6:15), Casablanca-Voyageurs (7:15)
Southbound: Casablanca-Voyageurs (21:15), Rabat (22:23), Kentira (22:51), Fez (1:30), Taorirt (5:03), Oujda (7:00).
Hotel train service timetable:
Northbound: 21:00 Oujia-Casablanca
Southbound: 21:15 Casablanca-Oujda

Casablanca–Nador section[edit]

Moving engine from one end of train to other end to change direction
Nador-Fes daytrain, Taorirt station

Nador is not the start or terminus; trains run from/to nearby Bin Anşār or Nador Port. The night-train on this route only offers 2 person sleeping compartments with full beds. No couchettes are available.[9]
As the train does not go to Taourirt, there is no need to change driving-direction and thus no need to move the engine. The day trains all stop at Taourirt and as the link to Nador is actually before the station of Taourirt (coming from Fes) the direction of travel has to change, including moving the locomotive from one end to the other.

Timetable[8] for this section:
Northbound: Nador (19:43), Fez (1:00), Casablanca (06:15).
Southbound: Casablanca (19:45), Fez (0:15), Nador (06:00).

Tangier–Nador section[edit]

Trains on this section normally run to and from Bin Anşār or Nador Port.

Timetable[8] for this section: Northbound: Nador (17:43), Fes (23:00), Tangier (07:00)
Southbound: Tangier (21:35), Fes (2:30), Nador[9](09:32).

Urban[edit]

Light rail[edit]

Heavy rail[edit]

Projects[edit]

Moroccan high speed rail service program (by 2035).

The national railway-operator ONCF is working on several projects. The largest project is the high a high-speed railway from Tangier via Rabat and Casablanca to Marrakech. Also a (passenger) rail connection between Tangier and Tangier MED, the port on the Mediterranean near Tangier, will give passengers arriving by ferry a connection to the main lines. A train will operate every 2 hours between the port and Tangier city.[12] A freight-line from the Renault factory at Tangier MED is already operational[13] The Marrakech to Agadir railway is also planned to be completed by 2025,[14] becoming the first rail line to reach the southern Souss-Massa region.

History[edit]

Railway links to adjacent countries[edit]

  • Algeria, route has been closed since the 1990s. – tracks use same gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
  • Gibraltar (UK), no connection; a ferry service connects Gibraltar to the Tanger-Med port and railway station
  • Spain: Since 2003 there are studies being done about the creation of a direct link with Spain via a railway tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar. This tunnel will connect the Moroccan rail-infrastructure with the European via Spain.[15] In Tangier the tunnel would connect to the currently-being-built High Speed Line Tangier-Marrakech.
  • Western Sahara: Via the proposed network-extension from Marrakech via Guelmim to El Aaiún would connect Morocco to the Western Sahara. Currently ONCF daughter-company Supratours operate bus-routes from Marrakech to Western-Sahara such as Tan-Tan or Laâyoune.[6] Morocco claims Western Sahara as part of Morocco and thus as national routes.
  • Mauritania: A 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) section of the Mauritania Railway; which (since the closure of the Choum Tunnel), cuts across the extreme south-eastern corner of the Western Sahara.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Ceremony launches Tanger – Casablanca high speed project". Railway Gazette International. 29 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Africa's first high speed line inaugurated". Railway Gazette International. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  3. ^ Samir El Ouardighi (14 November 2018). "Inauguration du TGV marocain: ce qu'il faut savoir sur ce méga projet (Round up)". medias24.com. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  4. ^ c.f. page 7 du rapport de la BAD afdb.org
  5. ^ a b "ONCF to buy 14 Duplex high speed trains". Railway Gazette International. 10 December 2010.
  6. ^ a b ONCF website about Supratours bus services Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine, visited 7 July 2012
  7. ^ a b Online Timetable ONCF Archived 26 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine based on trains for 2 May 2011, (french website) checked 2 May 2011
  8. ^ a b c d e f g ONCF website information on Trains du Nuit Archived 26 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine (French), visited 19 July 2011
  9. ^ a b ONCF Website Grand Lignes Nador-Casablanca Archived 1 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Visited 24 June 2012
  10. ^ (in French) Maroc : Bientôt deux lignes de tram à Tanger
  11. ^ (in French) L'ONCF triple la voie ferrée Kénitra – Casablanca
  12. ^ ONCF Website: Ligne Tangier – PORT Tangier Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, visited 24 June 2012
  13. ^ ONCF news: First train of cars from the Renault factory at Tangier Med[permanent dead link], 6 March 2012; visited 24 June 2012
  14. ^ "Marrakech-Agadir Railroad Construction on Track to Completion by 2025". Morocco World News. 11 March 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  15. ^ BBC News: Africa and Europe set for tunnel-link published 13-3-2007, visited 2 May 2011

Further reading[edit]

  • Robinson, Neil (2009). World Rail Atlas and Historical Summary. Volume 7: North, East and Central Africa. Barnsley, UK: World Rail Atlas Ltd. ISBN 978-954-92184-3-5.

External links[edit]

Media related to Rail transport in Morocco at Wikimedia Commons