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On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI inaugurated Morocco’s first high-speed rail line, known as the LGV. Although South Africa’s Gautrain and Kenya’s Madaraka Express already feature fast train service in other African countries, the new LGV in Morocco is Africa’s first true high-speed rail line.

The new LGV high-speed rail line now connects the economic hubs of Tangier and Casablanca in two hours and ten minutes. In comparison, the regular train takes almost five hours to traverse the same route. The LGV will travel at a speed of up to 320kph, or 199mph. The line may eventually be extended to connect Tangier to Marrakech in just three hours, a route that currently takes ten hours by train.

Blue lines denote opened high-speed line, purple lines denote planned high speed lines and dashed lines denote current traditional rail lines. Graphic courtesy of Wikipedia.

The $2 billion project launched in September 2011 by Morocco and France. Interestingly, France financed 51% of the project, Morocco financed 28% and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates financed the other 21%. The LGV will use 12 French-made Alstom trains, each of which can carry up to 533 passengers.

Moroccan officials believe the new train line will transport six million passengers in its first three years, which translates to 5,480 passengers each day. To achieve this level of ridership, there will be hourly departures from Casablanca and Tangier, and the LGV hopes to obtain an average 70% occupancy.

As with the new high-speed train service connecting Hong Kong and China, the service doesn’t come without controversy. Although Moroccan officials note that the line improves the country’s infrastructure, critics note that money spent on the LGV line would have been better spent on education and health.

Moroccan train tickets aren’t available for purchase outside Morocco, but once you arrive you can go to the train station and purchase all of the tickets you need for your trip. If you can use a credit card for the purchase, be sure to use one that features excellent travel protections and no foreign transaction fees like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

H/T: Fox Business News

Featured photo by Xavier Leoty / Getty Images.

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