Morocco has begun construction on a TGV high-speed rail link, which will connect Casablanca with Rabat and Tangiers, the first such project in Africa and the Arab world.

The line is planned to be extended to Marrakesh and Agadir, Moroccan officials said.

The first phase of the project will cost $4.1bn, of which, France has contributed a €920m loan, while the remainder will be funded largely by Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

The 350km Tangiers-Casablanca railway is based on France’s high-speed TGV trains, and will begin service in 2015 cutting the journey time from nearly six hours to just over two hours.

The agreement between France and Morocco to build the line was made in October 2007.

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