Morocco: Macron and King Mohammed VI inaugurate a high-speed line

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Morocco on Thursday to inaugurate with King Mohammed VI the Tangier-Casablanca high-speed line, presented as “the fastest in Africa” ​​and a symbol of the “depth” of the partnership between Paris and Rabat. .
 A grand ceremony surrounded by maximum security measures, as for all royal events, was organized in the huge renovated train station of Tangier, a major maritime hub between Africa and Europe, before the departure of the official convoy until in Rabat, the administrative capital.
 Train tickets were given to the two heads of state. The train that will bring them to Rabat must travel at 320 km / hour over 180 km of the high-speed section, before reaching the new station of Rabat-Agdal at 160 km / h, according to information obtained by AFP from of the technical team.
 Emmanuel Macron is due to leave the kingdom at the end of the day after this brief working visit which, according to the official MAP agency, “reflects the depth of bilateral relations based on a strong and strong partnership” between the two countries.
 Considered as a showcase for the modernization of the kingdom and the know-how of French companies, the Tangier-Casablanca line, with a total length of 350 km, will connect the two most dynamic regions of the kingdom in 2:10 instead of 4:45 currently.
 The official inauguration disrupted the movement of trains on the conventional network, according to information published by the local press and on social networks, in the absence of any official communication on the subject.
 The first tickets for the general public must be on sale after the official inauguration, and the line will be open to ordinary travelers by the end of the month, according to information obtained by AFP.
 “Flagship project of the bilateral relationship”, the LGV is seen by the French as a showcase to try to obtain other contracts in Africa, which offers “many opportunities” in the railway sector. Morocco is working to position itself as an “African hub” for foreign investors.
 “We wanted to make this project a showcase for the modernization of the country: it is a challenge that will take and know how to take up,” notes the daily “Les Ecos” in an editorial.
 France remains the main economic partner of Morocco but saw Spain take away in 2014 the first place for trade. Bilateral trade between the two countries recorded an average growth of 5.8% per annum, rising from 79.9 to 109.3 billion dirhams (7.4 to 10.3 billion EUR) between 2010 and 2017, according to figures released Thursday by the Moroccan Ministry of Economy.
 Emmanuel Macron is accompanied by the bosses of the French companies involved in the project: Alstom (supply of trains), the Ansaldo-Ineo consortium (signaling and telecoms), Cegelec (electrical substations) and the Colas Rail-Egis Rail consortium (tracks and catenary). SNCF provides project management assistance to the Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF).
 Hundreds of workers worked until the last minute to complete the project that was launched in September 2011 by the then president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and had received a visit in September 2015 from François Hollande.
 ONCF expects six million passengers after three years of operation. The cost of LGV, financed 50% by France via various loans, amounts to about 23 billion dirhams (two billion euros), nearly 15% more than initial estimates, but well below average European costs, according to the Moroccan Ministry of Transport.
 Emmanuel Macron is also accompanied by Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, while migration flows should be addressed during the discussions.

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