In 1887 a short private railway of 600mm gauge was opened for the Sultan of Morocco, connecting his palace with his gardens. It is thought that the Belgian government who sponsored the railway were hoping for orders for further railway developments in the country, but these did not transpire.
The first public railway in the country opened in 1908 between Casablanca and Berrechid, a distance of 52 miles. With a gauge of 500mm and using prefabricated track sections, the lightweight steam locomotives took over 9 hours for the journey.
Over the next couple of decades a bewildering array of 500mm and 600mm gauge railways sprang up, partly as a result of a treaty provision outlawing the construction of standard gauge railways until after the completion of the Tangier to Fez railway, which did not open until the 1920s.
Today, however, Morocco has a network of almost 2000km of standard gauge railways which serve the more populated coastal area in the north and the more important inland cities. An international link with Algeria is out of use. All the former narrow gauge railways have ceased operation, although many traces remain.
A high speed rail line linking Tanger and Marrakech is proposed. The first section, a new line between Tanger and Kenitra, is under construction and is expected to open in 2018. This will be followed by an upgrade of the existing Kenitra to Casablaca line, eventually extending to Marrakech.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook