Africa's first high-speed rail line celebrates successful opening year

Morocco’s Al Boraq trains are faster and more reliable than Britain’s

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 22 November 2019 14:21 GMT
Al Boraq: Africa's high-speed rail line

Africa's first high-speed rail line, in Morocco, has just celebrated its first birthday with better than expected performance.

The service, branded Al Boraq, connects the northern port of Tangier with the capital, Rabat, and the main commercial hub, Casablanca. The line took seven years to build.

French-built TGV trains depart from each end of the line every hour, on the hour, from 6am to 9pm (except for a gap at 1pm).

The 225-mile journey takes 2 hours 10 minutes, with trains capable of reaching 186mph. Previously services took more than twice as long.

Only one in 30 trains is late.

On the UK’s flagship rail route, the East Coast main line, one in four LNER trains arrives more than 10 minutes behind schedule.

Over the year, passenger numbers have averaged 9,000 per day, with fare revenue covering operating costs. One-third more people are using the train on the Casablanca-Rabat-Tangier corridor.

The cheapest off-peak ticket for the full length of the line costs £12, with the most expensive fare – first class peak – priced at the equivalent of £29.

Within the next two decades, Morocco intends to connect another 20 cities by rail – including Essaouira and Agadir, popular with British travellers.

The aim is to provide 87 per cent of the population with access to trains – instead of 51 per cent currently.

The national operator, ONCF, will also connect 14 airports by rail; at present, only Casablanca has a train connection to the airport.

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