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A Korea National Railway (KNR) led consortium has secured a Won 10bn ($US 32m) contract with Moroccan National Railways (ONCF) to provide basic and detailed design services for section three of the planned 230km Marrakech - Agadir high-speed line.
KNR is partnering with fellow Korean firm Dohwa Engineering and a local partner to deliver the work. It overcame competition from French engineering companies, which have already been active in the Moroccan high-speed market, including delivery of the 183km Tangier - Kenitra project, the country’s first high-speed line, which entered operation in November 2018.
Moroccan minister of transport and logistics, Mr Mohamed Abdeljalil, told the House of Representative in January that ONCF has successfully completed design studies for the Marrakech - Agadir project, including infrastructure and civil engineering works as well as topographic surveys.
Abdeljalil said the Marrakech - Agadir project is expected to cost Dirhams 50bn ($US 5.08bn) and completion is dependent on securing necessary financing, with the government open to a public-private partnership (PPP) model. France, which supported the financing of the Tangier - Kenitra project, and China have been suggested as possible sources.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco suggested in November 2019 that introducing high-speed rail to the south of the country to encourage economic development is a political priority. Work is already underway to upgrade the existing railway from the terminus of the high-speed line in Kenitra to Rabat. Morocco also plans to extend the high-speed line from Rabat to Casablanca and Marrakech to offer a complete Tangier - Agadir corridor. Preliminary studies of this project have also been completed but it is running slightly behind the Marrakech - Agadir project.
The contract is the first the KNR has won for high-speed work in Africa. It says that work on the project will commence next month.
“The award of this project served as an opportunity to inform the world that Korea has the technology to export high-speed rail designs, and it is expected that it will become a stepping-stone for additional orders for the Polish high-speed rail project, which is scheduled to be bid in the future,” says Mr Kim Han-young, chairman of KNR. “The corporation will continue to do its best to serve as a platform to support domestic companies' entry into overseas markets.”
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