Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rabat-Sale Tramway now open

The long-awaited tramway system linking Rabat and Sale was opened by HM King Mohamed VI yesterday, 18 May.

HM the King crosses the new bridge in a tram

It's been a long time coming and is around six months late opening, but that's hardly surprising considering the huge amount of work that has taken over four years to complete. The project has cost 4.7 million Dirhams.

There are two tram lines across the capital and its twin town of Sale. The enormous Hassan II bridge spans the Bouregreg River for a distance of 1215m. The bridge not only carries the two tram lines, but also a six-lane highway, cycle tracks and pedestrian walkways.

The tram will revolutionise travel within the city, and provides a ecologically sound public transport system. During its construction, around 4000 jobs were created, and now that it's operational, there will be a further 1000 jobs.

Try as we might, the View from Fez has been unable to find a better map of the tramlines than the one below. The fare is Dh7, and it's thought that there will be around 180 000 passengers per day. The trams travel at a speed of up to 20kph and are manually operated.

There are a total of 32 stations over the 19.5km of tram lines. Line 1 runs from Hay Karima in Sale to the Rabat suburb of Agdal, passing through the centre of the city on Avenue Al Alaouiyine. It caters for the high-traffic areas of Avenue Mohammed V in Sale, the government offices, Sale and Rabat Ville railway stations, the university, Agdal and Souissi.

Line 2 serves the high-density areas of Ocean, Moulay Youssef Hospital, through Yacoub el Mansour and Bettana to the Sale bus station.

The tram stations themselves are 60m long and spaced about half a kilometre apart. They have been specially designed to cater for handicapped people and baby's prams and pushchairs. They are each decorated with a mashrabiya-type metal screen depicting tree branches which separates the platform from the street.

During the inauguration of the Hassan II bridge, HM the King awarded medals to several people involved in the project: Lamghari Essakel, director general of the Bouregreg Valley Development Agency, was awarded the Wissam of Al Moukafaa Al Watania of the Order of Officer; Marc Mimram, architect of the Hassan II bridge, was granted the Alaouite Wissam of the Order of Officer; Nada Kassimi, delegate director general of the Rabat-Sale Tramway Company and Loubna Boutaleb, director of the bridge building works, were given the Wissam of Al Moukafaa Al Watania of the Order of the Knight.

Traffic rules and more information can be found at the tramway website:

Casablanca's tramway is around half way through its construction.

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