Will there be a train between Europe and Africa? Spain and Morocco have a real plan

Will there be a train between Europe and Africa?  Spain and Morocco have a real plan

It looks like traveling by train between Spain and Morocco may soon be available to those interested. Both countries have a plan for this type of connection, which would improve transport between continents.

Traveling by train between Spain and Morocco will soon be possible. Such a plan was discussed for the first time several dozen years ago, in 1979. Now the Spanish Minister of Transport wants to revive talks about it and implement it.

Will there be a train between Spain and Morocco?

Forty-five years after the idea was first proposed, a tunnel connecting Spain and Morocco may finally be possible. If this happens, it will likely be built before the 2030 FIFA World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by Morocco, Spain and Portugal.

Currently, flights between the Spanish capital, Madrid, and the Moroccan city of Tangier, a strategic gateway between Africa and Europe since Phoenician times, take one and a half hours. In turn, the land and water journey between them takes as much as nine hours. In the meantime, tourists can take a ferry between them.

If the project is successful, the tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar will create a new rail link between the countries, with stops from Madrid to Casablanca, which is 300 kilometers south of Tangier.

The entire train journey would likely take five and a half hours and provide a more sustainable travel option. What do we know so far about the potential new tunnel between Europe and Africa?

The long history of the tunnel connecting Europe and Africa

Despite plans announced decades ago, the Moroccan National Company for the Study of the Strait of Gibraltar (SNED) and its Spanish counterpart, the Spanish Society for Permanent Communications across the Strait of Gibraltar (SECEGSA), are reportedly carrying out surveys of the area to check whether the project – known as a “fixed link” – will be profitable in the 2020s.

Last month, Spanish Foreign Minister Oscar Puente visited Morocco to put the plan into action, saying a meeting would be scheduled “as soon as possible” to arrange a transport link.

If this happens, the tunnel will be 27.6 km long. There are no confirmed costs at this early stage, but it is estimated that the planned route could cost billions of euros.

During a meeting with officials in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, Puente reportedly said positive relations between the two nations would help promote the development of better infrastructure and transport links. In February 2023, Puente's predecessor, Raquel Sanchez, resumed discussions about the project.

“We intend to give impetus to research on the Strait of Gibraltar Fixed Link project, which both countries started 40 years ago. This is a strategic project for Spain and Morocco, but also for Europe and Africa,” she said.

So far, the Spanish government has allocated €2.3 million to SECEGSA to further investigate the topic.

According to the railway portal Railtech.com, the tunnel route will run from Punta Paloma in Tarifa to Punta Malabata in the Bay of Tangiers. It would be excavated to a maximum depth of 300 meters and have a maximum slope of three percent.

The project is estimated to take up to five years to complete, meaning it could be ready by 2030.

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