France’s Alstom says it expects to be awarded a contract to provide rolling stock for the $2.5bn railway line linking Casablanca and Tangier by the end of March.

Alstom Transport submitted its technical and commercial proposals for the high-speed trains in December 2009 and has held talks with Rabat since then.

“The negotiations should lead to the rolling stock contract signature during the first quarter,” according to a company source.

Construction work on the railway network is scheduled to begin in June and the operating start date is set for the end of December 2015.

The high-speed rail project is part of a wider government plan to promote economic and social development by upgrading the country’s infrastructure networks.

The route between Casablanca and Tangier is expected to reduce the travelling time between the two cities from six to two hours. It will have capacity to carry 8 million passengers each year (MEED 7:2:10).