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.