MINISTER of transport and logistics, Mr Mohamed Abdeljalil, has told the Moroccan parliament that private finance and other innovative solutions will be required to provide the Dirham 400bn ($US 39bn) needed to expand the rail network by 5100km.

“In addition to the involvement of local and regional municipalities, innovative financing solutions based on public-private partnerships must be found,” he said.

Moroccan National Railways (ONCF) is leading the long-term programme to build 1300km of high-speed lines and 3800km of new conventional routes.

According to Abdeljalil, it will increase the number of cities on the national network from 23 to 43, providing access to rail services for 87% of the population compared with 51% at present.

Projects under development include high-speed lines from Casablanca to Oujda on the Algerian border, and from Tangier to Nador.

Morocco’s first high-speed line runs for 186km from Tangier to Kenitra, and ONCF has appointed Egis as general consultant to supervise the project to build a further 492km to Marrakesh.

The project is divided into three packages: Kenitra - Ain Sebaa (150km), Ain Sebaa - Nouaceur (130km) and Nouaceur - Marrakesh (212km).

To upgrade its existing 2300km conventional network, in November 2022 ONCF signed a finance contract with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has agreed to provide Dirham 2.1bn.

An agreement that will see the EIB provide a further Dirham 527m is expected to be signed this year.

The new financing will support ONCF's investment plan to renew infrastructure, equipment and workshops. This will include the renewal and repair of track as well as traction power supply, signalling and telecommunications systems.

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