CASABLANCA Nov 27 Morocco plans to invest 20
billion dirhams ($2.61 billion) to build a high-speed rail line
linking the northern city of Tangier to the country's commercial
capital, Casablanca, its transport minister said on Tuesday.
"The project cost is estimated at 20 billion dirhams and
will cut the journey between the two cities to two hours and 10
minutes instead of five hours and 45 minutes currently," Karim
Ghellab told reporters.
The high-speed train line would carry 8 million passengers a
year after it starts in 2013, he added.
In October, Morocco and France had signed an agreement on
the rail project to allow French companies, including rail firm
Alstom (ALSO.PA), to design, build, operate and maintain the
super high-speed rail link.
Ghellab said Morocco was mulling a second high-speed rail
link between Casablanca and Marrakech, the North African
country's main tourist destination, by 2015.
"Cost and other financial aspects of this second project are
still under consideration," he said.
Morocco plans to invest more than $15 billion to upgrade its
basic infrastructure, including roads, ports, airports for the
2002-2015 period to bolster its economic competitiveness amid
efforts to turn the country into a platform of investment and
exports to the European Union and United States.
The country is linked by free-trade agreements with both the
U.S and EU.
(Reporting Zakia Abdennebi, editing by Will Waterman)