Tunis, 24 December 2010 – With a €300-million loan aimed at increasing capacity on the Tangiers-Marrakesh railway line approved on 17 December 2010, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has confirmed its position as Morocco’s leading partner in the transport sector.
“This loan – the biggest ever extended by the AfDB to Morocco – will help increase rail traffic fluidity and shuttle frequency for mainline and freight trains and reduce journey times on the entire Tangiers-Marrakesh line starting from 2016. We are proud to strongly support this project in light of the strategic importance of such infrastructure in the national economy’s competitiveness,” said AfDB Infrastructure Director, Gilbert Mbesherubusa. With a total cost of about 5.1 billion Moroccan dirham (approx. €438 million), the project is a major component of the overall Moroccan rail investment programme estimated at MAD 12.8 billion for 2010-2015.
The project aims at increasing capacity on the Kenitra-Rabat-Casablanca and Casablanca-Settat-Marrakesh sections of the Tangiers-Marrakesh railway line linking the South to the North and East of the country. Rail traffic on the Casablanca-Marrakesh link has increased considerably to double digit rates in recent years, due to socio-economic, cultural and tourism boom in the two urban centres.
Work on the Kenitra-Rabat-Casablanca line involves strengthening existing tracks, including the construction of a 148-km third track between Zenata and Kenitra dedicated to freight haulage. The Casablanca-Marrakesh line involves upgrading and partially double-tracking the 40-km line between Settat and Marrakesh.
Implementation of the project will provide the Tangiers-Marrakesh rail link with infrastructure that meets market requirements in terms of competitiveness (journey time and quality of service). The main expected project outcome include significant increase in rail travel starting in 2016, with improvements in rail traffic fluidity and shuttle frequency for mainline and freight trains.
On completion, the project is expected to increase capacity on the Tangiers-Marrakech line, which is considered to be a key element in the country’s efforts to upgrade the railway system to meet increasing traffic. Owing to existing capacity constraints, the freight traffic service from Tangiers only operates by night. The third track to be built primarily for freight will allow round-the-clock freight traffic between Tangiers and Casablanca.
The AfDB is a strategic partner in Morocco’s transport sector. Since the start of its operations in the country in 1973, the Bank has approved 112 operations involving a total commitments of 4.71 billion Units of Account (approx. USD 7.2 billion), including UA 900 million (approx. USD 1.4 billion) in the transport sector. On the whole, infrastructure represents 84% of AfDB commitments in Morocco.