On Thursday the 15th of November Morocco inaugurated Africa's fastest train which will halve travelling time between the commercial and industrial hubs of Casablanca and Tangier.
King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron boarded the train for the first time for the inaugural trip from Tangier to the capital Rabat. It required seven years of work on the high-speed railway line.
The train which is about twice as fast as South Africa's high-speed Gautrain linking Johannesburg's international airport to the city's financial district Sandton, will more than halve the 200 km (124 miles)Casablanca-Tangier journey to around two hours. The high-speed 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.
According to state news agency MAP, the high-speed line was constructed at a total cost of 22.9 billion dirhams ($2.4 billion).
12 double-decker high-speed-trains bought by Morocco from French group Alstom, will be operated by state-owned railway ONCF which expects six million passengers on the new train service annually.
Officials have said the project will boost growth in Tangier and help draw more investments to northern Morocco where one of Africa’s largest ports is located.
But critics perceive the project as symbolizing a two-speed Morocco, further accentuating disparities between territories as vast regions in the south while key cities such as Agadir remain without a basic train service.
A train derailment last month near Kenitra, 15 km (10 miles) north of Rabat, killed seven people and injured 125 others triggering calls for a better allocation of resources by giving priority to improving safety and infrastructure as well as punctuality of basic railway services.