The fastest train, which was launched in Morocco on November 15, 2018, will halve traveling time between the commercial and industrial hubs of Casablanca and Tangier.
King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron boarded the train for the inaugural trip from Tangier to the capital Rabat.
After seven years of work on the high-speed railway line, the train was tested at a speed of 357 km (222 miles) per hour and is planned to run at 320 km (198 miles) per hour. This will more than halve the 200 km (124 miles) Casablanca to Tangier journey to around two hours.
The new train is about twice as fast as South Africa’s high-speed Gautrain linking Johannesburg’s international airport to the city’s financial district Sandton.
According to a state news agency, the high-speed line was completed at a total cost of 22.9 billion dirhams ($2.4 billion). Officials said the initiative will boost growth in Tangier and help attract more investments to northern Morocco where one of Africa’s largest ports is located.
Morocco, which expects six million passengers on the new train service annually, bought 12 double-decker high-speed-trains from French group Alstom that will be operated by state-owned railway ONCF.
Critics of the initiative point out disparities between territories, as vast regions in the south and key cities such as Agadir remain without a basic train service.
A train derailment in October triggered calls for a better allocation of resources by giving priority to improving safety and infrastructure as well as punctuality of basic railway services.