Sunday, February 26, 2012

Casablanca - the Light Rail System is Coming

The View from Fez team visited Casablanca this week, to inspect progress on the new Casablanca light rail project. We are pleased to report that work is well underway and continuing around the clock. Although the bold prediction was that the system would be up and running by the end of 2012, we are told that 2013 is a more realistic date. Here is our updated report on a project that will change the face of Casablanca.

Construction is underway 24 hours a day. (Photo: Sandy McCutcheon)

Construction of the first of four light rail lines began in 2010 with a planned completion in 2012. The first line will be 29 km long. A contract with train providers Alsthom was signed for delivery of the first cars in 2011.

Casablanca tram development company Casa Transports has appointed the consortium of Systra and Moroccan firm CID Engineering: Development Consultants as project manager for the city's light rail scheme.

Systra drew up preliminary designs in 2008. As consortium leader it will now be responsible for management of the 6·4 bn dirham project, including detailed design work, organising the tendering and supervising construction.

The first stage route plan

The 29 km Y-shaped first phase will run from Grand Stade to Hay Hassani and Facultés, with 50 stops and 38 trams. Traffic and utility diversion is causing problems in the city, with local drivers reporting that, "everybody is angry with the disruption at the moment". Water, electricity, sewage, public lighting and telecom deviation is underway in six corridors in the city. “The deviation works in the boulevard Mekka and the first part of the boulevard Okba-Bnou-Nafi (2 km each), which began last September have been completed, they have started on the boulevards Ba-Hmad, Panoramic, Abdelmoumen and Okba “ said Mr Youssef Draiss, CEO of Casa Transport S.A., the Tramway General Contractor.

Some people wonder why they entire area was not closed to allow for the work to go faster, but the CEO of Casa Transport said that studies have previously shown that the best way to minimize traffic disruption is to work on alternate stretches of 200 or 300 meters on each side of the road.

Now the construction work has reached Mohammed V Boulevard in the city centre, starting from the train station Casa Voyageurs. The approach is to start work from the suburbs and converge toward the center, and as such, Boulevard Hassan II will be the last affected for to maximise traffic flow.

The opening was planned for December 12, 2012 but insiders told The View from Fez that it will certainly now be well into 2013. However, residents are confident that the final outcome will enhance economic opportunities and benefit both locals and tourists in Casablanca.

Longer term plans include four lines totalling 76 km.

The end is in sight - but another year at least before completion. (Photo: Sandy McCutcheon) 

Casablanca Transports SA was founded in 2008 specifically to own and manage the tramway. Its shareholders are the Moroccan state, the Greater Casablanca Region, local authorities, Hassan II Fund for Economic & Social Development, as well as the State Pension Fund, national railway ONCFM, and Banque Centrale Populaire.


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