• Aiming to create a denser network.

24.06.2022 By: Christian Doepgen

Artikel Nummer: 41424

Morocco ready in 2040

ONCF awards three contracts to expand its network.   The next step towards the expansion of the Moroccan railway enterprise ONCF’s track network has now been taken. The expansion will be tackled by mixed Moroccan-foreign consortia, with Korean participation in the projects too.

The good new was announced in April, with the executive management team of the Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF), the state-owned Moroccan national railway operator, confirming the fact that three consortia have been awarded contracts to construct the new Kenitra–Marrakesh railway line – a high-speed transport project.

The undertaking represents an extension of the rail network’s existing 183 km high-speed line from Tangier to Kenitra, which opened for business in November 2018. There are also plans for a further 230 km extension to Agadir, located on the Atlantic coast.

Mixed consortia in the starting blocks

Many parts of the national railway network, some of which dates back to the era when the country was still a French protectorate, are due for refurbishing. In 2019 King Mohammed VI had already announced plans to build a national high-speed network by 2040, including lines to and from Meknès and Fès.

The decision was made on the basis of detailed studies of the country’s infrastructure needs for civil engineering, rail equipment and operating systems, with the Kenitra–Marrakesh project and a hub in Casablanca emerging as key requirements. Then Morocco’s minister of transport and logistics, Mohammed Abdeljalil, informed parliament of the successful conclusion of the analysis.

The tender was divided into three sections – Kenitra–Aïn Sebaa, Aïn Sebaa–Nouaceur and Nouaceur–Marrakesh. The consortia will work together with Moroccan engineering firms on the projects.

South Koreans hoping for a springboard

The foreign players include the French companies Ingerop and Setec. Another Moroccan company will collaborate with the Korea National Railway (KNR) and with Dohwa Engineering, also from South Korea. Together they hold a 20% share in the consortium that will be in charge of constructing the Nouaceur–Marrakesh section. This contract is worth around MAD 65 million (approximately USD 6 million).

The contract is the first KNR has won for high-speed work in Africa. Work on the undertaking is scheduled to start shortly.

KNR hopes that the project could serve as a springboard for it to garner other international contracts.

Further projects in the pipeline

Minister Abdeljalil said that the Marrakesh–Agadir project will require an expected outlay of around MAD 50 billion (USD 5.08 billion). Its completion depends on the ability to secure the necessary funding, with the government advocating the implementation of a public-private partnership.

France, which had helped to finance the Tangier–Kenitra project, and China, have been mentioned as potential partners. A commitment to the project from firms and the governments in those countries is still lacking, however.


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