The Government of Morocco has announced a MAD 7.7 billion (USD 850.5 million) rail investment plan from 2022 until 2024 to modernise and develop country’s the rail infrastructure and the existing stations.
According to a report of the Public Establishments and Enterprises (EEP) the funding, which is part of the 2022 finance bill draft includes MAD 2.9 billion (USD 320.32 million) investment for the next year, in 2023 MAD 2.22 billion (USD 245.2 million) will support the rail projects and in 2024, MAD 2.6 billion (USD 287.2 million) will be allotted.
The funding will support the institutional and organizational restructuring plan of Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF) which includes the modernisation and structure reform of country’s rail sector.
The rail company and the government signed in July 2019 an agreement on these investment plans, but a decision has not been made and it should be further discussed. This agreement would readjust the financial situation of the railway company which faces a debt of MAD 43 billion (USD 4.75 billion) recorded at the end of 2020. The agreement between the government and ONCF also includes the separation of the commercial operation from the management and development of the infrastructure.
At the end of June 2020, ONCF recorded a turnover of MAD 1.6 billion (USD 176.7 million) and it is estimated to reach MAD 3.34 billion (USD 369 million) in 2021.
In the first half of this year, MAD 687 million (USD 75.9 million) was the value of the investment and it is expected that by the end of this year MAD 2.7 billion (USD 300 million) will be invested.
The 2022 bill states that the Covid-19 pandemic led to a 98% decrease of passenger transport from March to May 2020 and to preserve ONCF’s financial stability and its transport activities, a contingency plan has been implemented.
ONCF carried 21.1 million passengers in 2020 recording a 45% decrease compared to 2019 level and expects that its rail services will be used by 30 million passengers by the end of this year, the report says. On rail freight transport, the rail company transported 8.1 million tonnes of goods and 16.4 million tonnes of phosphate in 2020 and this year, ONCF is expecting to increase the general freight volume to 8.4 million tonnes while phosphate transport is estimated to decrease to 15 million tonnes (a decrease of 1.4 million tonnes).
MAD 50 billion (USD 5.5 billion) was the investment allotted for the 2010-2020 period which determined infrastructure modernisation and also the opening in 2018 of the Al Boraq high-speed rail line linking Casablanca and Tangier.
The rail investment plan includes the development of the infrastructure for which a USD 4.5 billion contract was signed in September for the construction of a rail system of 1,000 km rail of which 460 km will be high-speed rail connections.