The first high-speed trains in Africa are flashing along the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
The French-made double-decker TGVs are being tested ahead of the launch of a flagship new line connecting Tangier with Morocco's economic capital Casablanca in 2018. The new trains can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour. They will cut the journey time between the two cities by more than half -- to just over two hours. The $2 billion project has been in development for a decade, funded by the governments of Morocco, France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE. . . .
High-speed trains fit within a wider program of infrastructure spending in Morocco, including the world's largest solar power plant . . . .
"We aim at six million passengers a year after three years of commercial operation, instead of three million currently," said Mohamed Rabie Khlie, director general of national rail operator ONCF, in a recent interview with Le Monde. "This should enable us to achieve an operating margin that far exceeds that of conventional trains and will justify the development." The director general went on to add that growing passenger numbers had caused "saturation of the network," making the new line a necessity. He denied that an upgraded service would lead to high costs for passengers." We will run trains intended for Moroccans and thus adapted to the purchasing power of Moroccans," said Khlie. "We do not want a train reserved for high-end customers."From CNN.
It is hard to know how much the fact that Morocco is a monarchy in which the King has real power, rather than a full fledged democracy, influenced the decision.
The route is across one of the higher population density areas in North Africa and could be naturally expanded to Algeria and Tunisia and even to Tripoli in Libya, in the future, if politics and economics permitted it.