Moroccan railway operator Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF) is expected to invite bids for civil works at the end of 2011 for the first phase of the $2.5bn Tangiers-Casablanca high-speed railway line.

The first phase of the network involves building a 200-kilometre high-speed rail line along the country’s Atlantic coast between the cities of Tangiers and Kenitra.The civil works will involve reinforcing the ground where the track will be laid.

The construction of the first phase of the railway line will be divided into a number of packages, including civil works, bridges and rolling stock. This will allow local companies to participate in the development of the railway, says a source involved with the project.

The link will be used by trains running at 320km an hour and is scheduled to be in operation by December 2015.

France’s Egis Rail won the contract that covers the design and construction management for the civil engineering of the northern section of the Kenitra-Tangiers high-speed line. France’s Systra will manage civil works on the southern section of the line.

Tenders for construction contracts will only be issued once the detailed design is complete.

A second phase will involve building a high-speed track from Kenitra to Casablanca, a further 130km along the coast.

Saudi Arabia has given Rabat $200m to help fund the project (MEED 31:5:10). The government is already providing MD4.8bn ($585m) for the project, with a further $122m coming from the Hassan II Fund for Economic & Social Development, $231m from France and other European donors and $1.5bn worth of loans.