In 1887 a short private railway of 600mm gauge was opened for the Sultan of Morocco, connecting his palace with his gardens. It is thought that the Belgian government who sponsored the railway were hoping for orders for further railway developments in the country, but these did not transpire.
The first public railway in the country opened in 1908 between Casablanca and Berrechid, a distance of 52 miles. With a gauge of 500mm and using prefabricated track sections, the lightweight steam locomotives took over 9 hours for the journey.
Over the next couple of decades a bewildering array of 500mm and 600mm gauge railways sprang up, partly as a result of a treaty provision outlawing the construction of standard gauge railways until after the completion of the Tangier to Fez railway, which did not open until the 1920s.
Today, however, Morocco has a network of almost 2000km of standard gauge railways which serve the more populated coastal area in the north and the more important inland cities. An international link with Algeria is out of use. All the former narrow gauge railways have ceased operation, although many traces remain.
The first section of a new 186km high speed rail line opened in 2018 between Tanger and Kenitra, together with an upgrade of the existing Kenitra to Casablaca line, a further 170km. Extension to Marrakech and Agadir is proposed for the future.
In 2018, a preliminary study was launched for a new railway between Oujda and the coastal city of Nador.
In 2022, a feasibiity study was completed for a new 150km high speed line from Rabat to Meknes. Extension to Fez and eventually to Oujda near the border with Algeria is proposed.
© 2004-2022 Glyn Williams
Photo image by Fmjwiki from Wikimedia Commons