Trip to Morocco - March 2013

General Notes

This trip was planned to take part in a five-day railtour organised by PTG and was my first visit to Africa. An extra couple of days were planned to cover some of the lines in the north of Morocco.

Operating Company Abbreviations:

  • CT - Casa Tramway
  • NT - Northern Trains
  • ONCF - Office National des Chemins de Fer (Marocain)
  • RM - RATP Metrolink (operator of Greater Manchester Metrolink)
  • TRS - Tram Rabat-Salé
Place Arrive Depart Train Traction details & notes

Saturday 16th March 2013

Timperley   11:40 - RM tram 3045
Manchester Piccadilly 12:05 12:14 - NT EMU 323???
Manchester Airport (MAN) 12:29 15:35 EZY-1893 Easyjet Airbus A320 G-EZCT delayed 35 mins due to water bowser problem
Marrakech Airport (RAK) 19:25      
Overnight at Hotel Tichka, Marrakech (2 nights)
Simple rail route to the airport. First time in Africa...... PTG provided a coach from the airport to the hotel.

Sunday 17th March 2013

Marrakech (photo)   13:00 608 ONCF EL E-1408 + 12C (photo - photo)
Benguerir 13:54 15:03 609 ONCF EL E-1403 + 12C (photo)
Marrakech 16:05      
Overnight at Hotel Tichka, Marrakech
The day started with a PTG-organised visit to the depot at Marrakech (photo - photo - photo), followed by a private run up the line to Benguerir and back.

Monday 18th March 2013

Marrakech   08:10 V15122 ONCF DL DH-372 + 4C PTG Charter Train
Benguerir 09:04 09:55 V15155 Run round (photo - photo)
Youssoufia 10:37 11:00   Photo Stop (photo - photo)
Safi 12:05     (photo)
Overnight at Hotel Golden Tulip, Safi
We had been promised that the train would run down to the docks at Safi, but this did not prove possible. A visit to Safi depot followed (photo). Time was available for a walk around Safi (photo).

Tuesday 19th March 2013

Safi (photo - photo)   09:05 V15124 ONCF DL DH-372 + 4C PTG Charter Train dep 42 late due to defective coach
Benguerir 10:51 11:11 V15126  
Casablanca Voyageurs 13:55 13:58    
Casablanca Port (photo - photo) 14:10     arr 6 late
Place Nations Unies   15:39 - CT tram 037 + 038
Sidi Moumen Terminus (photo) 16:25 16:33 - CT tram 020 + 004
Aïn Diab Plage Terminus 17:50 17:51 - CT tram 059 + 060
Ab del Moumen 18:14 18:17 - CT tram 045 + 046
Facultés Terminus 18:37 18:49 - CT tram 046 + 045
Place Nations Unies 19:20      
Overnight at Novotel Casablanca City Centre, close to Casablanca Port station (4 nights)
We had been promised that the train would run into the port area at Casablanca, but this did not prove possible. The spare time was used to do a full trip around the new Casablanca tram system, only opened in December 2012. This has one long route to Sidi Moumen in the east, and two western branches to Aïn Diab Plage and Facultés.

Wednesday 20th March 2013

Casablanca Port   08:10 V15117 ONCF DL DH-372 + 4C PTG Charter Train (photo)
Oued Zem 10:58 11:30 V15128 Run round arr/dep 35 late (photo - photo)
Khourigba 12:31 12:55   Photo Stop dep 44 late (photo)
Tamdrost 13:57 14:10   Photo Stop dep 48 late
Casablanca Port 16:06      
Overnight at Novotel Casablanca City Centre
The long branch to Oued Zem sees few passenger trains, and coverage on service trains requires an overnight stay at the end of the line. After arrival back at Casablanca we had a visit to the Hassan II Grand Mosque (photo) and then walked through the souk (photo - photo).

Thursday 21st March 2013

Casablanca Port   08:10 V15119 ONCF EL E-1414 + 4C PTG Charter Train
Bouskoura 08:38 08:45   Photo Stop (photo)
Aéroport Mohammed V 08:58 10:15 V15130 Run Round (photo - photo)
* Bouskoura 10:30 11:00 V15139 * ONCF DL DH-372 (photo - photo)
Jorf Lasfar 102.4km 12:36 12:59 V15154 Run Round (photo - photo)
El Jadida 13:17 16:05   Visit to town (photo - photo)
Casablanca Port 18:20      
Overnight at Novotel Casablanca City Centre
Casablanca airport station is underground so is barred to diesel locomotives. We expected to go further at Jorf Lasfar, but we did have a few hours looking around the interesting town of El Jadida.

Friday 22nd March 2013

Casablanca Port   08:30 9 ONCF EMU Z2M109 + Z2M107
Rabat Ville (photo - photo) 09:47      
Mohammed V Gare de Rabat (photo)   10:26 'T1' TRS tram 018 + 037
Hay Karima 10:49 12:15 'T1' TRS tram 034 + 032
Bab Lamrissa 12:27 12:32 'T2' TRS tram 044
Hassan II 12:38 12:45 'T2' TRS tram 044
Hôpital Moulay Youssef 13:10 13:14 'T2' TRS tram 008 + 017
Médina Rabat 13:24 13:30 'T2' TRS tram 044
Tour Hassan 13:35 13:48 'T1' TRS tram 033 + 025
Madinat Al Irfane (photo) 14:06 14:17 'T1' TRS tram 031 + 021
Mohammed V Gare de Rabat 14:37      
Rabat Ville   15:45 124 ONCF EL E-1417 + 12C dep 18 late
Casablanca Voyageurs 16:45     arr 22 late
Gare Casa Voyageurs   17:20   CT tram 018 + 017 (photo)
Place Nations Unies 17:30      
Overnight at Novotel Casablanca City Centre
A visit to the country capital Rabat to ride on the tramway there. A depot visit at Hay Karima was arranged. Travel between Casa and Rabat was on service trains.

Saturday 23rd March 2013

Place Nations Unies   08:42   CT tram 040 + 023
Gare Casa Voyageurs 08:52      
Casablanca Voyageurs   09:45 155/356 ONCF EL E-1312 + 9C (photo)
Tanger Ville (photo) 14:30 15:50 409 ONCF EL E-1312 + 2C arr 26 late / dep 12 late (photo)
Ksar Sghir (photo) 16:41 17:25 414 ONCF EL E-1312 + 2C arr 8 late (photo - photo)
Tanger Ville 18:13     arr 17 late, delayed at Tanger Morora
Overnight at Ibis Hotel Tanger City Centre, a few minutes walk from Tanger Ville railway station
On my own now. The branch to Ksar Sghir has just this one train pair per day at the moment. I was invited into the loco cab by the Chef de Train at Ksar Sghir and rode back to Tanger Ville. I found out that the branch continuation, on to Tanger Med, is due to start a regular EMU train service in June 2013. This whole line is very new (opened in 2009) and is very heavily engineered.

Sunday 24th March 2013

Tanger Ville   08:25 301/181 ONCF EL E-1252 + 8C (photo - photo)
Fès (photo) 13:00 13:50 128 ONCF EL E-1307 + 10C (photo)
Meknès 14:21 14:24 183 ONCF EL E-1317 + 10C
Fès 15:00      
Overnight at Ibis Hotel Fès, a few minutes walk from Fès railway station
A simple day to cover the scenic route to Fès, plus a quick run back to Meknès for some alternative locomotive haulage.

Monday 25th March 2013

Fès   06:50 110/607 ONCF EL E-1408 + 12C
Marrakech 14:05     arr 7 late
Marrakech Railway Station   15:43 '19' Alsa bus
Marrakech Airport (RAK) 16:00 20:30 EZY1894 Easyjet Airbus A320
Manchester Airport (MAN) 00:20 00:50   Taxi
Home 01:00      
The journey home. Marrakech bus service No. 19 runs from the airport via a circular route past the railway station and back to the airport. The plane arrived at Manchester half an hour early but then we had to wait over 40 minutes for the baggage to arrive!


Problems with PTG's agents meant that we didn't do much of the promised freight track and had fewer than the promised number of locomotives. Otherwise a very interesting trip for a first visit to Morocco. A lot of the locomotives, signage and operating practices are very reminiscent of France, not surprising bearing in mind the country's history. PTG may or may not return to visit Northern Morocco, but I want to return to the north anyway.