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Morocco's new Tangier-Casablanca high-speed trains will carry 8 million passengers per year, says Office National des Chemins de fer (ONCF – the national railway of Morocco) CEO Mohammed Rabie Khlie. With a capacity of 500 passengers, each trainset will be accessible to the “average citizen” with a departure every hour and every half-hour during periods of heavy traffic. Infrastructural work on the project, scheduled to commence in June 2010. is expected to be complete by the end of 2014, with trains in operation by December 2015. The Tangier-Casablanca section will form the first stage of the country's high-speed rail master plan, which envisages more than 1,500km of new lines by 2035. The government plans to promote economic and social development through upgrading major infrastructure networks. The project is being funded by the state (4.8 billion dirhams), the Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development (1 billion dirhams), French and European donations (1.9 billion dirhams) and loans with favourable terms and conditions (12.3 billion dirhams). It is believed that Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF - the French national railway), Alstom SA and Bombardier Inc are among top contenders for involvement in the project.
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