ONCF (from French: Office National des Chemins de Fer; Arabic: المكتب الوطني للسكك الحديدية Al-Maktab al-Waṭaniy lil-Sikak al-Ḥadīdiyyah; Moroccan National Railways Office) is Morocco's national railway operator. ONCF is a state-owned company that is under the control of the Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Logistics and is responsible for all passenger and freight traffic on the national railway network. The company is also responsible for building and maintaining the rail infrastructure.
Map of the current Moroccan railway and the new high speed line.
ONCF commuter train.
|Dates of operation||1963–present|
|Predecessor||Compagnie des chemins de Fer du Maroc ("CFM"); Compagnie franco-espagnole du chemin de fer de Tanger à Fès ("TF")|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Length||2,067 km (1,284 mi)|
|Headquarters||8, rue Abderrahmane El Ghafiki, Rabat - Agdal|
- See also Rail transport in Morocco
The ONCF employs around 7,845 employees and has a network of 3,600 km, all 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge of which 1,300 km is electrified (2015). The general director of ONCF is Mohamed Rabie Khlie.
ONCF was created in 1963 as a merger of:
- Railways of Morocco - CFM (French: Compagnie des chemins de fer du Maroc)
- Railway of Eastern Morocco - CMO (French: Compagnie du chemin de fer du Maroc oriental)
- Franco-Spanish company of Tanger-Fès - TF (French: Compagnie franco-espagnole du Tanger-Fès)
- Mediterranean-Niger-Railway (MN) (French Chemins de Fer de la Méditerranée au Niger)
The railways has been state-owned since formation in 1963.
- Exploit the rail infrastructure
- Study, build and maintain the train lines in the network
- Exploit all the businesses related to railway services locally and nationally
ONCF has undergone several institutional reforms before becoming a state-owned company. Further institutional reforms are expected in order to open the national railway market to competition. Plans were made in 2007 to re-form it into a limited company fully owned by the Moroccan State to be called SMCF (French: Société Marocaine des Chemins de Fer) but this hasn't materialized by the planned deadline in 2012.
The network has a north-south track from Tangier via Rabat and Casablanca to Marrakech. This line connects all major cities along or close to the Atlantic coast. In September 2012, ONCF started upgrading the Casablanca-Kenitra main line to improve capacity.
For the (main) destinations where there is no train service (yet) the ONCF operates their own bus company Supratours offering connecting bus services from the nearest railway station to places like Agadir, Tétouan or Essaouira
Towns served by railways
A major investment program upgrades and extends the network. In 2009, a branch-line of the E-W link was completed, running from Taourirt for 100 km to Nador. This track runs down from the Rif mountains to sealevel at Nador. Most of the route from Taourirt follows the same route as the National Road 19. The tracks through Nador are underground and after Nador Ville the track continues to the Nador Port in Bin Anşār above ground again. This new branch-line is used for both passenger and freight trains with several passenger trains serving Fez, Rabat to Casablanca or to Tanger. There are 6 trains per day: some demanding change at Taourirt wye - others provide direct services up to Casablanca. The night-train (dep. 19:47 from Nador) doesn't even stop at Taourirt and thus doesn't have to change travel-direction.
Another project completed in 2010 is a short-cut between Rabat and Tangier. When completed trains can run directly to Rabat and Casablanca without having to use the longer route via Sidi Kasim. Also in the north a new track is built between Tanger and Ras R'Mel.
Other routes under construction are:
- Casablanca to El-Jadida
- Bypass via Meknes, on the Rabat-Fes route
Not yet under construction, but planned are:
- Marrakech - Agadir, and then an extension further south to Laâyoune
- Oued Zem - Beni Mellal
The most important project is the development of a "high-speed link" (TGV) from Tangier via Rabat and Casablanca to Marrakech. The main contractor of this project is French company Alstom. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy was guest on 29 September 2011 when the actual construction of the line started. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2012
Oujda railway station is the last station for passengers on the East-West link. The lines south of Oudja are for freight only and until the passenger-service starts the link Tanger-Tanger MED is also only operated for freight: mainly for the Renault factory at the port
Railway links to adjacent countries
- There was a link to Algeria, but the border is now closed.
- Western Sahara: Via the proposed network-extension from Marrakech via Guelmim to El Aaiún would connect Morocco to the Western Sahara. Currently ONCF daughter-company Supratours operate bus-routes from Marrakesh to Western-Sahara such as Tan-Tan or El Aaiún. Morocco claims Western Sahara as part of Morocco and thus as national routes.
- Melilla, Spain - train terminates at Nador Port, within walking distance of Melilla.
The company makes a difference between the long-distance "Grandes Lignes", high-speed shuttle trains between Rabat and Casablanca, Urban transport in the Casablanca region and the "train by road" via daughter-company Supratours
On the mainline (Grand Lignes) several trains are operated per day. In the first class all chairs are assigned seats. On three main routes the ONCF operate special night trains with either full beds in private rooms of couchettes. On the Oujda-Casablanca route they run a "hotel train" which only offeres beds and couchettes, no seats. These "Voyage de Nuit" is available on:
- Casablanca-Oujda via Rabat, Sale, Fes and Taourirt: Train – Hôtel : Dep. Casablanca: 21:15 Arriving Oujda at 07:00
- Oujda-Casablanca, Departure: 21:00, Taourirt 22:43, Fes: 03:00 Rabat: 06:15, Casablanca: 07:15
- Marrakech-Tangier via Casablanca, Rabat, Kenitra: Departure: 21:00, Casa: 0:45, Rabat: 1:57, Tanger: 07:25
- Tangier-Marrakech: Tanger:21:05, Kenitra: 2:35, Rabat: 3:15, Casablanca: 4:30, Marrakech: 08:05
- Nador-Tangier: Departure: 17:43, Fes: 01:00 and arrival in Tanger: 07:00
- Tanger-Nador: Departure: 21:35, Fes: 2:30, Taourirt: 7:45, Nador: 09:32
- Passenger transportation; 29.6 million passenger-journeys (2009)
- Goods transportation; 35 million tonnes (2009)
- including phosphates transportation.
The turnover of the ONCF was growing, both in passengers and freight, until the decline of the economy in 2007. The number of passengers is still growing but freight figures are down. The total income on passengers (sold train tickets) and freight was in 2009 2.7 billion dirham.
Planned high-speed line
On September 2006 ONCF proposed a high-speed rail connecting Tangier to Marrakech which will reduce the time of the journey from around 10 hours to only 3 and half hours. This service, if approved, may not be in operation until 2035. In 2007 Systra was appointed to design a 350 km/h alignment between Settat and Marrakech.
This first part of the Atlantique high-speed link will open in 2015. When operational trains with a capacity of 500 passengers will run every hour and even every 30 minutes in the rush-hour. The CEO of the ONCF, Mohammed Rabie Khlie, expects to carry 8 million passengers per year. The high-speed network should be available for the average Moroccan citizen.
The network that will carry the high-speed-network, from Tangier via Fes to Rabat and Marrakech are currently already electrified. The lines to the east of Fes are diesel powered only and the majority of the track is single: opposite trains pass each other at selected train-stations.
For the Tangier-Casablanca line the ONCF will invest 20 billion Moroccan dirham (approx. US$2.5 bln.). Half of this money is needed to construct the track. From the other half 5.6 bln. dirham is needed for technology around the tracks and the remaining 4.4 bln. is needed for the rolling stock.
The funding of this project is coming from the state (4.8 bln. dirham), one billion from the Hasan II fund for social and economic development. France and the rest of Europe will donate some 2 billion dirham. The remaining 12.3 billion dirham is funded via loans under favourable conditions
Besides the high-speed link discussed above, the company is also developing other projects, including new rail links and extending the network's reach southwards of Marrakech. One of the new links recently being constructed is a branch line from Taourirt to Nador. On 10 July 2009 king Mohammed VI of Morocco opened the two new railway stations in Nador and the line to Taourirt
ONCF is a member of the following organizations:
- International Union of Railways (UIC)
- Arab Union of Railways
- Comité du Transport Ferroviaire Maghrebin (CTFM).
References and notes
- Rapport Annuel 2015 (PDF). Casablanca, Morocco: ONCF. 2015.
- "The World Factbook". CIA. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- "Statut & Mission". entreprise.oncf.ma (in French). Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- Mohammed Rabie Khlie (August 2007). "Morocco's rail renaissance takes a major step forward". Railway Gazette International.
- "Casablanca – Kénitra upgrading starts". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- ONCF website about Supratours bus services Archived 2012-06-16 at the Wayback Machine, visited 7 July 2012
- ONCF website on Main lines with route-map Archived 2009-02-28 at the Wayback Machine, visited 25 June 2012
- ONCF website and timetables on Nador-Casablanca route Archived 2010-12-01 at the Wayback Machine, visited 7 July 2012
- BBC News: Nicolas Sarkozy visits Morocco for TGV rail-link launch, 29 September 2011. Visited: 25 June 2012
- ONCF press-release: Premier train de voitures entre l'usine Renault et Tanger Med, 6 March 2012. Visited: 25 June 2012
- ONCF website on Offre de transport Archived 2012-06-16 at the Wayback Machine (left menu bar), visited 7 July 2012
- Website ONCF with info on Night trains Archived 2008-03-25 at the Wayback Machine, visited 31-5-2012
- Website ONCF with info on Trains from/to Nador Nador Archived 2010-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
- ONCF website (French) Chiffres clés Archived 2011-02-07 at the Wayback Machine, visited 14 October 2010
- Key figures from Annual Report 2011, page 16. Visited 2 June 2012
- "Chiffres clés ONCF". ONCF Entreprise. ONCF.
- Morocco Newsline Morocco to launch $2.5 bln high-speed train line, visited 14 October 2010
- "Morocco plans Arab world's first high-speed train". Khaleej Times Online. 2006-09-15.
- "TGVs to Marrakech". Railway Gazette International. April 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- Railways Africa Moroccan High speed train published 19-02-2010,visited 14 October 2010
- "Railway Gazette: ONCF to buy 14 Duplex high speed trains". 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- Le premier train à grande vitesse (TGV) en Afrique sera Marocain
- King Mohammed VI opens new reilway stations Archived 2009-08-28 at the Wayback Machine, visited 4 August 2009
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