The Al Boraq high-speed train line, which links the cities of Tangier and Casablanca, in Morocco, is fully operational. Railway infrastructure constructor Colas Rail, a subsidiary of construction company the Colas Group, built a 182 km/s electrified double track between Tangier and Kenitra.
“This new railway infrastructure allows for a maximum operational speed of 320 km/h and leads to a two-and-a-half-hour gain between Tangiers and Casablanca,” says Colas Rail Africa business development director Frédéric Priest.
He adds that some of the high-speed-line project key figures include two-million tons of ballast, 50 000 t of rail, 700 000 sleepers, 400 km of track and a 25 kV catenary.
Colas Rail subsidiary Colas Rail Morocco, in a consortium with engineering company Egis Rail, won a design-build contract for the high-speed line.
Al Boraq was inaugurated in Morocco in November last year by King Mohammed VI in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Priest explains that construction work involved track (studies and construction), catenaries and two base camps (studies, supplies and construction). Among the 850 employees who worked for ColasRail on this project, 95% were recruited from the areas of Tangier, Casablanca and Rabat. About 5 000 workers were mobilised during this project.
“In Morocco, it was a contractual request. Our client, Morocco national railway operator the ONCF Agency, asked us to take into account the local integration of skills by creating a training centre during the project.
“In Africa, Colas and Colas Rail are used to working with local partners and training local people on site. It is a strong commitment from our side and we believe in this model. This is a part of Colas and Colas Rail’s DNA,” Priest says.
During the Africa Rail Exhibition 2019 in Johannesburg, Colas Rail received the African Transport Premier Project of the Year award for the Colas Group and Colas Rail expertise in the Tangier-Casablanca high-speed-line project.
“Winning the award is a great achievement for us,” says Priest.
The award is about excellence in project execution and management, and shows the company’s degree of professionalism and technical skills, he adds.
“It is a pledge of seriousness and credibility and we are very proud to have completed the construction of the high-speed line with our client, the ONCF Agency,” he says.
Meanwhile, Priest tells Engineering News that Colas Rail is well established in the north of Africa and is willing to develop activities in the sub- Saharan Africa countries.
In Guinea-Conakry, Colas Rail has recently worked for wholly owned subsidiary of Emirates Global Aluminium Guinea Alumina Corporation.
Colas Rail laid 18 km of rail track – 10 km on the Kamsar port site and 8 km in Tuinguilinta. More than 75 000 t of ballast were transported to the site, along with 14 500 t of various machines and material.
As an engineering, procurement and construction contractor and a design, build, finance and maintenance company, it proposes tailor-made solutions in greenfield projects, such as in turnkey railway projects, and proposes maintenance and rehabilitation contracts for brownfield projects.
“Colas Rail is looking for all the African prospects that can provide these opportunities we would be proud to work for South African prospects like transportation system operator Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, State-owned freight and railway company Transnet and the Gautrain Management Agency,” he concludes.