The National Railways of Morocco (ONCF) has issued a tender for the upgrading of the Tangier-Marrakech railway line.

The contract covers the supply and installation of equipment at stations along the third rail line being built between Zenata and Kenitra, and the double track between Skhours and Benguerir, and Sidi Ghanem and Marrakech. Contractors have until 21 February to submit their bids.

The tender is part of a wider programme to increase the capacity of the Tangier-Marrakech railway line. The wider project includes the construction of a 148-kilometre third track between Zenata and Kenitra, which will be dedicated to freight traffic. It also covers the upgrade and partial double tracking works on a 40km stretch of rail between Settat and Marrakech. The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2016.

Financing for the project was secured from the African Development Bank in December 2010. The bank lent the ONCF a five-year investment loan of €300m ($398m). Total project costs amounted to €438.2m, with the remainder of the funds to be raised by the rail authority.

The capacity of the rail line is needed to meet Morocco’s anticipated growth in demand for freight transportation capacity, particularly given the increasing amount of shipping traffic passing through the port of Tangiers.