Trains For America

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UPDATED Latest country to embarrass US in HSR implementation: Morocco

UPDATE: Be sure to follow the “Comments” link above for additional news and video links.

That’s right, two hours between Tangiers and Casablanca (don’t get too excited, now). From Magharebia:

Morocco is moving forward with plans to expand its rail network by building a high-speed rail service linking Tangier to Casablanca. A new TGV line will cut travel times between the two cities from more than five hours to a bit more than two. Some 8 million passengers per year are expected to use the new train by 2016.

On Thursday (April 9th), representatives of the National Railways Office (ONCF) and their French counterparts, the SNCF, met in Rabat to sign general contracting assistance agreements worth a total of EUR 65 million.

These agreements relate to the design, construction, commissioning, use of rolling stock, the commercial services to be offered by the high-speed rail link, and the maintenance of a 200 km stretch of track allowing a running speed of 320 km/hour.

The Tangier-Casablanca high-speed rail link marks the first stage of the ONCF’s high-speed rail master plan, pursuant to which over 1,500 kilometres of new railway lines will be built by 2035.

I’m not as flustered as I would have been had I seen this a year ago. There’s real excitement about rail now, and even some pretty good plans. Morocco seems to have a grander, more unified vision, but what can you do?

Or, I don’t know, perhaps I’ve just been desensitized?

Hopefully the upcoming allocations of rail stimulus funds will give advocates something to be cheery about. Any day now.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

2 Responses

  1. HockeyFan says:

    I traveled in Morocco 2 years ago and took trains from Rabat to Marrakech (yes, the Marrakech Express) and a return train to Casablanca.
    I found the Morrocan system, ONCF, to be very similar but a little more crowded and shabbier than French SNCF trains, but (surprise!) much better than North American systems.
    Track quality and speed was good. Welded rail.
    All lines, even spur lines, were electrified.
    Trains were frequent and inexpensive by my tourist standards.
    All stations were staffed and had announcement boards and at least a minimum of services. It is shameful how many US train stations are boarded up and lifeless.
    The government has not neglected the rail system and is planning line extensions and high speed lines.
    I hope to return again and ride the new high speed train.

  2. Rafael says:

    Spain and Morocco have also revived plans for a rail tunnel under the Straits of Gibraltar (Point Paloma – Point Malabata). Maximum water depth for the chosen alignment would be ~300m. Tunnel length would be 37.7km, max gradient 2.5-3.5%, top speed 120km/h. Phase 0 would encompass the exploration/service tunnel and transverse connectors. Phase 1 would implement the western tube, phase 2 the eastern one. Concept similar to Channel Tunnel but significantly harder to implement.

    Swiss tunneling ace Giovanni Lombardi has been retained as the chief engineering consultant. The great water pressure will literally squeeze water out of the overburden rock, so continuous pumping will be needed to keep the tunnels from slowly flooding. In addition, there are several soft rock strata that could cause problems during construction and, the whole area is also seismically active.

    Status: geological surveys completed, bilateral agreements
    To do next: environmental studies incl. immigration/terrorism issues, secure 50/50 funding, preliminary engineering of exploration tunnel

    Swiss participation:
    http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/front/detail/Swiss_plan_tunnel_under_Strait_of_Gibraltar.html?siteSect=105&sid=7118024&cKey=1159613846000

    Technical background:
    http://www.ita-aites.org/cms/fileadmin/filemounts/general/pdf/ItaAssociation/ProductAndPublication/OpenSession/OS_2005_Gibraltar.pdf

    Video in French:

    Video in Spanish:

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