Information published on 4 February 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 384.

Morocco: Launch of anchor projects by ONCF in Marrakech

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His Majesty King Mohammed VI presided over a ceremony in late January for the launch of a project to double-track the line between Settat and Marrakech and was informed of the urban renewal scheme to redevelop Marrakech railway station.

The project to double-track the line between Settat and Marrakech aims to reduce journey times, increase frequency of services and improve regularity.

As part of a programme to develop the country’s railway network, the project involves doubling the existing 140-km section between Settat and Marrakech, which is currently a single track line. The project includes the construction of the platform and two 350-metre viaducts, installing track and catenary equipment and removing all grade crossings and replacing them with 60 engineering structures as well as enhancing electrical sub-stations.

Through this scheme, ONCF intends to boost safety and quality and meet the growing demand for passenger and freight transport, and ensure better and regular railway traffic flow. Travel time is expected to be reduced by 45 minutes between Marrakech and Casablanca and daily services will be extended to 60 trains by 2020 compared to the 18 services at present, with fixed-interval services between Marrakech and Ben Guerir. The project will also serve the future logistics platforms of Sidi Ghanem and Sidi Bouathmane as part of the national strategy for development and logistical competitiveness.

In addition to these benefits, this anchor project – which is worth some 1.8 billion dirhams (around 160 million euros) – will help to revitalise the regional economic fabric by creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs during the construction period and hundreds of permanent jobs by 2017.

The launch of the first phase of the project took place in November 2012 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI and was completed in December 2013. This involved the renewal of 80 km of track and 140 km of catenary system, the doubling of a 38-km section and the building of a freight station at Sidi Ghanem.

The second phase of the anchor project to renew the Marrakech railway station site is expected to give fresh impetus to the city. The project falls within the scope of a master plan to revamp stations and enhance railway installations in a number of Moroccan cities.

Spanning 39 hectares and with a total indoor area of 465,000m2, this second phase involves the building of a multi-purpose urban centre including a residential area, retail space, hotels, offices and parks. Worth some 3 billion dirhams (around 267 million euros), the project will be carried out through the relocation of industrial activities (freight and maintenance) to the sites of Sidi Ghanem and Sidi Bouathmane. Divided into five phases, the project will be delivered on a step-by-step basis between 2017 and 2022.

These projects are part of a global vision of balanced, sustainable and integrated development. They reinforce ONCF’s mission as a railway operator contributing to territorial planning, and confirms the important role played by rail transport to serve the community.

(Source: ONCF)