Photo credit (banner): SNCF

Africa’s first HS line inaugurated in Morocco

On 15 November 2018, King Mohammed VI of Morocco inaugurated Africa’s first high-speed rail line, with French President Emmanuel Macron and SNCF Executive Board Chairman Guillaume Pepy in attendance. 

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Casablanca to Tangier, via Rabat

In a milestone for African rail history, Casablanca and Tangier are now linked by the continent’s first high-speed line, slashing travel time from 4h45 to 2h10. 

The new service is named Al Boraq, after the flying horse of Islamic mythology.

Twelve Alstom TGV 2N2 Duplex trainsets now operate on the line. Commercial speed is 320 km/h, but on 4 May 2018, a Moroccan driver set a speed record of 357 km/h between Tangier and Kenitra. 

357 km/h: a rail speed record for Africa

Video : Le Maroc à l’ère de la grande vitesse

End-to-end partnership

In 2007, Morocco and France signed a memorandum of understanding, kicking off a strategic partnership that covered the entire project: 

  • design 
  • construction
  • operation 
  • line maintenance

In 2009, a team of SNCF experts began working with their ONCF counterparts on all of the technical deliverables for the high-speed line. 

View the timeline to high-speed rail in Morocco

2011 Official launch of works on Morocco’s high-speed line

Mirror-image partnership

In each major area of the project, an SNCF specialist teamed up with an ONCF counterpart, combining high-speed rail expertise with critical local knowledge. 

Today the partnership focuses primarily on training, with support from the Railway Training Institute (IFF) in Rabat, co-founded by SNCF and ONCF in 2015. But it also covers technical support and maintenance. Under the agreement, SNCF Réseau will assist ONCF for at least two years.

Learn more about IFF

Verbatim

“This new line meets the demands of the modern era. Our two-way partnership with ONCF has delivered high-performance technology and a successful relationship—all to achieve the twin goals of local development and sustainable mobility."

Guillaume Pepy, Chairman, SNCF Executive Board

Engineering works

To build the new line, which crosses a number of flood-prone areas, we built 286 bridges and other structures, including 13 viaducts. The most impressive of these is the El Hachef viaduct, south of Tangier: at 3.5 km long, it required an investment of €100 million. 

  • The worksite for El Hachef, one of 12 viaducts built on the HS line.

  • 169 road and rail bridges were built for the project.

  • Work crews spread 4 metric tons of ballast per meter of high-speed track, or 1.6 million tons in all.

  • The new line has already set a rail speed record for Africa: 357 km/h.

  • ONCF will operate 12-15 trains per day on Al Boraq, which will carry a total of 6 million passengers a year.

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