A few years ago the idea of a train powered by the wind would probably have been relegated to the realms of science fiction. Now the Moroccan national railway authority, ONCF, are intending to make the idea a reality, developing a project to produce green energy for its electric train network
The ONCF is proposing a project to ally with an IPP, an independent power producer, and setting up a wind farm with a capacity of 150 MW. ONCF would purchase the green energy under an exclusive buyer contract lasting 20 years. The project would cost around two hundred million euros, according to early forecasts, and according to French media, ONCF is at the stage of preparing tender applications for the project.
When the notion of a high speed train running from Tangier to Casablanca was first floated, few believed it would come to fruition. Now the sceptics have been proved wrong and the project is well underway The first of the 14 trains on order arrived in Morocco at the end of July and after reassembly will undergo a series of static and dynamic tests. It is expected that the train will also be tested on the existing conventional network from the last quarter of this year before being tested on the high speed line. Each train set will include two power cars and eight intermediate carriages, including two first class, five second class and one buffet vehicle. Each double-deck train will seat up to 533 passengers.
|The first of the 14 TGVs arrives in Morocco|
An ONCF spokesperson says that the work on the high speed line is "progressing at a very fast pace after solving all the constraints the project faces". Some areas of construction are nearing completion, while overall 70% of the project is complete. The remaining work is expected to be finished by the end of 2016. Parallel work on railway equipment such as signalling and services is also progressing, with the first of the railway platforms ready by the end of 2015
The completed high-speed line will be delivered in 2017 to undergo a series of systems integration testing and approval before commercial operation.
But there is more. Morocco is already thinking about a high-speed network of 1500 km by 2030. This would involve two rail openings; one north Europe and the other to the Maghreb in the east.
The line currently under construction, called 'the Atlantic line,' linking Tangier to Casablanca, will be developed simultaneously to the south and north. To the south the line will extend 900 km to the city of Agadir. And to the north, the Atlantic line will connect to the European network via a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar.
When completed Rabat will be four hours from Madrid and eight hours from Paris. Morocco also plans a route named 'online Maghreb' 'of 600 km, linking Casablanca, Rabat and Oujda. Finally the Maghreb line could extend further and reach Algiers and Tunis.
The Moroccan TGV will run at an operating speed of 320 km per hour. Leaving every hour it is intended they will travel from Tangier to Kenitra in 47 minutes instead of 3:15 today, to Rabat in 1 hour 20 minutes against 3:45 today and in Casablanca in 2:10 against 4:45 now. It is expected that the first section of the TGV Tangier - Casablanca, will carry between 6 and 8 million passengers every year as against 3.5 million today.