The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $112.3m loan for infrastructure improvements in Morocco, including doubling the 142km stretch of the Tangier-Casablanca-Marrakech railway line.
Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF) will use the funds to build a second track on the line between Settat and Marrakech.
The work would save time and allow increased passenger and freight traffic between Casablanca, Morocco’s economic capital, and Marrakech, its main tourist centre.
Work under the project is scheduled to be completed by 2020, following which the annual passenger volume is expected to increase from the current 4.5 million to more than 7.4 million.
According to ONCF, the improvements to the line could more than double freight volumes.
AfDB transport and ICT department director Amadou Oumarou said: "The quality of rail transport is a pull factor for economic actors. The promotion of rail is in line with the bank’s desire to invest in modes of transport that are effective, sustainable and low CO2 emitters."
The new project extends cooperation between AfDB and ONCF and is aimed at making Morocco a leading country for railway transport.
In 2010, AfDB provided a $396m loan to modernise other sections of the Tangier-Casablanca-Marrakech line, a project that is currently being completed.
AfDB noted that passenger volumes on the route between Casablanca and Marrakech have increased by 20% between 2010 and 2014.
It is expected that as a result of the project, the number of cargo trains and goods shipping between the two cities would increase, therefore raising freight volume from 207,000t to 504,000t, according to northafricapost.com.
Image: ONCF will use the loan to build a second track on the 142km stretch of the Tangier-Casablanca-Marrakech railway line. Photo: courtesy of African Development Bank Group.