The proposed Kenitra - Marrakech line is expected to cost Dirhams 40bn, while the proposed Marrakesh - Agadir line would cost around Dirhams 50bn.

Amara says progress to develop detailed technical studies for the two lines is progressing, with work on the Marrakesh - Agadir line further along.

Morocco inaugurated Al-Buraq, Africa’s first high-speed line, in November 2018 with the opening of the 183km Tangiers - Kenitra line. The project included upgrading the Kenitra - Rabat line in order to reduce Rabat - Tangiers travel times.

Annual results

During the annual meeting of the National Bureau of Railways on December 23, Mr Muhammad Rabih Al-Khulaie, director general of the bureau, said passenger numbers had increased 11% year-on-year between January 1 and March 20 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, while Al-Buraq passenger numbers increased by 28% over the same period.

However, while some services were suspended during the height of the pandemic, turnover dropped by only 30% year-on-year for 2020 due to measures introduced to allow freight to continue to be carried across the network as well as cost saving initiatives introduced across the railway.

The 2021 budget, approved during the meeting, anticipates Dirhams 3.1bn in turnover next year, and allocates Dirhams 2.7bn in investment.

The bureau has also outlined a strategy to revitalise the railway sector post-pandemic, which includes accelerating digital transformation, stimulating key activities, improving oversight and supporting industries across Morocco.

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