High-speed rail in Morocco
How did “Al boraq” came to life?
Al Boraq is the name given to the first trains that run on the newly built high-speed (HS) line in Morocco. The new line covers around 194 km between Tangier and Kenitra allowing trains to run with a maximum speed of 320 km/h. The commercial operations on the line were inaugurated in November 2018.
Morocco has been planning to build its first high-speed railway line, also called LGV or Ligne Grande Vitesse, as early as 2003 with first feasibility studies. One of the goals of these early studies is to find where the first line should be built. This was decided in 2006 with the announcement that this first line will be built between Tangier and Kenitra with construction work expected to start in 2008 and operations in 2013. The expected plan will be delayed few years due to a number of persistent issues such as project financing.
In 2007, Morocco and France signed a memorandum for a strategic partnership to cover the entire project, including design, construction, operation and line maintenance. The French railway company (SNCF) started working with the Moroccan ONCF in 2009 on technical specifications of the high-speed line.
By February 2010, financial agreements have been settled by the ONCF with the different funders. An agreement was also signed in December 2010 between ONCF and Alstom so that the latter would deliver the necessary rolling stock. The new expected start of construction work is set to the summer of 2010 and operations are set to start in 2015. But with additional delays, construction started by September 2011 which announced the official launch of the works on the high-speed line.
With construction works advancing, the first trainsets were delivered by June 2015. In September of the same year, an agreement between ONCF and SNCF was completed to establish a joint venture for the maintenance of the newly built line until 2030 (i.e., for the next 15 years).
The final works on the tracks were completed by October 2017 and the final stations are built (or renovated) by the summer of 2018 marking additional delays from the expected timeline. The train operations were inaugurated in November 2018. Thus, the first departures scheduled for December 2018 after seven years of construction works.