Intercity train travel in a foreign country can be challenging. Contemplating a Moroccan train ride in the land of ‘couscous’ seems quite daunting for a first-timer.
The aura of Morrocco, the diversity her people, the smell of the delicious Chebakia, you name it! In areas closely linked with ancient Moroccan history, you can picture yourself with sandals and a djellaba akin to an ‘Arabian nights’ story, only for the honking taxis and bus agents to ‘stir your ire’.
Get too comfortable and you might miss that train ride. Moving through public transport is easy, provided you have loose cash you can quickly hop onto a bus, taxi, or train ride. The rail network links most major cities across the North, Marrakesh, and coastal areas. However, the rail network is only limited to large urban centers.
Whats transport like in Morocco?
If you just hopped off a train ride and have to connect with a bus to reach your destination, opt for a tourist bus rather than the regular bus. Just like the train station which is a controlled environment, you won’t have to withstand thousands of hawkers trying to sell you stuff from the windows.
Generally, train rides along the central line are quite comfortable, timely, and inexpensive. Along the snaking line are Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Meknes, and Fes. A Northern train line connecting to Tangier exists too.
Needless to say, the most flexible form of travel is the car - given its freedom and flexibility. Unfortunately, cars are denied access to most Medinas. That means you will have to park outside the city adding to costs.
If you just flew into Morrocco through Rabat, the best way to Casablanca is via train. Casablanca has three main train stations, Casa Voyageur, Casa Oasis, and Casa Port. The first train station is at Casa Oasis close at the Casablanca airport.
From here the next connection is at Casa Voyageur where trains do the change. From here the next point is Rabat Ville which is the main train station at Rabat. There are regular commuter lines between Casablanca and Casa Port station, full details on their website here.
Tramlines in Morrocco
There is a tram line within Rabat known as the Rabat-Sale tramway that stretches 19.5 kilometers. Another popular tramline in Casablanca transports over 250,000 people annually covering a network of 22.5 kilometers. The route has 33 stops starting at Aïn Diab stop and ends at Sidi Bernoussi stop.
It’s quite simple catching a train, provided there is space on the train they will sell you a ticket. To guarantee yourself a seat, opt for first-class travel. With that in mind, if your traveling for an 8-hours-long journey, its advisable to get a seat. Standing in a cramped up lower class can dampen your travel experience.
Insightful tips for Moroccan train travelers
1. Avoid taking the taxis close to the train station
When heading from the train station to the town center, avoid the taxis parked closeby. It will look easy to jump into one of them, but it should cost you. If a taxi is what you need, take one further away.
2. Monitor train travel times on the rail service website
Accurate details on train routes and schedules are available on the Moroccan National Railways Office’s (ONCF). This saves you the trouble of wandering around the train station or having to swallow down the awful coffee synonymous with most train stations. Once you pick a train schedule, you can go explore the city.
3. High-speed trains
Described as Al Boraq in Arabic and TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse) in french, is a national treasure for the African nation. There are only 20 countries globally with a high-speed fast train, and Morrocco recently inaugurated its TGV. The TGV line serves Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, and Kenitra. The high-speed line is expected to open up to more cities.
4. Be wary of the transfer points
If your train route has a transfer point, you will get two tickets at the booth. The first ticket moves you from the station to the transfer point, the second ticket will then direct you to your destination point.
When at a train station, there is no guarantee the ticket issuer speaks English. In most cases, they speak either French of Darija.
Editor note: Feedback is from traveler reviews and vlog videos on their personal train ride experiences while in Morrocco.
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