MOROCCAN National Railways (ONCF) has confirmed that three consortia have won design contracts for the Kenitra - Marrakech high-speed project.

The work covers detailed infrastructure studies relating to civil engineering, rail equipment, and rail operating systems required for the planned Kenitra - Marrakech project and a hub at Casablanca.

The call was split into three lots covering the Kenitra - Aïn Sebaa, Aïn Sebaa - Nouaceur, and Nouaceur - Marrakech sections. The consortia are led by domestic design firms, partnering with French firms Ingerop on the Kenitra - Aïn Sebaa section, and Setec on the Aïn Sebaa - Nouaceur section. Another Moroccan firm is working with Korea National Railway (KNR) and Dohwa Engineering, Korea, which together hold a 20% stake in the consortium, on the Nouaceur - Marrakech section. This contract is worth Dirhams 65m ($US 6m).

The project is an extension of the existing 183km high-speed line from Tangiers to Kenitra, which opened in November 2018. There are also plans for a further 230km extension to Agadir on the Atlantic coast.

Moroccan minister of transport and logistics, Mr Mohamed Abdeljalil, told the House of Representative in January that ONCF has successfully completed design studies for the Marrakech - Agadir project, including infrastructure and civil engineering works as well as topographic surveys.

Abdeljalil said the Marrakech - Agadir project is expected to cost Dirhams 50bn ($US 5.08bn) and completion is dependent on securing necessary financing, with the government open to a public-private partnership (PPP) model. France, which supported the financing of the Tangier - Kenitra project, and China have been suggested as possible sources.

The contract is the first KNR has won for high-speed work in Africa. It says that work on the project will commence next month.

“The award of this project served as an opportunity to inform the world that Korea has the technology to export high-speed rail designs, and it is expected that it will become a stepping-stone for additional orders for the Polish high-speed rail project, which is scheduled to be bid for in the future,” says Mr Kim Han-young, chairman of KNR. “The corporation will continue to do its best to serve as a platform to support domestic companies' entry into overseas markets.”

For detailed data on high-speed projects from around the world, subscribe to IRJ Pro.