The new line will link Tangier in the north with the commercial capital Casablanca.

When it opens in 2013 the line will carry 8 million passengers a year, according to Rabie Khlie, managing director of Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF).

The high speed rail link, which will cost a total of $2.7bn, will reduce the time taken for the 300-kilometre journey to 2 hours 10 minutes from 5 hours 45 minutes, says Khlie.

The project will also include the delivery of 18 high-speed train wagons.

The Tangier-Casablanca line is part of a wider programme to build a high-speed network linking all the kingdom’s major cities (MEED 2:2:07).

ONCF is also planning to spend $755m to develop rail infrastructure in the north. Plans include a 43-kilometre link between Tangier and the new Tangier-Mediterranean port development, and the modernisation of existing railway stations in the region.