France’s famous TGV trains will soon connect the coastal city of Tangiers with Morocco’s economic capital, Casablanca.
The trains, capable of traveling up to 200 mph, will cut current journey times in half. It currently takes about four hours and 45 minutes to travel the 215-mile distance from Tangiers to Casablanca via Rabat. The high-speed train will make it possible in two hours and 10 minutes, according to local news.
The trains are expected to leave every hour and carry about six million passengers within the first three years. There are currently 14 trains, each capable of carrying 533 passengers.
State officials hope that the project, called the LGV, will attract foreign visitors, but also be regularly used by Moroccans. High-speed train costs will be about 30 percent more expensive than the current train route, which costs between $14 to $27.
“If you are a businessman deciding to install an operation in Africa and you are torn between Morocco and another country, this kind of modern world-class infrastructure could help tip the balance,” Riccardo Fabiani, a senior analyst at the Eurasia Group, told CNN.
But the project has come under scrutiny. Critics of the train line feel that funding and attention are being paid to the areas of the country with the highest visibility while the poorer parts of the country are being ignored.
The $2 billion project was initiated in 2011 by Moroccan King Mohammed VI and then-president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. The initiative also included several other Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to be present at the inauguration of the train on Thursday.