Morocco’s excellent train network is one of Africa’s best, linking most of the main centres. Trains are reasonably priced, and preferable to buses where available. Trains are comfortable, fast and generally run to their timetables. The ONCF (Office National des Chemins de Fer; www.oncf.ma) runs the network.
There are two main lines: Tangier down to Marrakesh via Rabat and Casablanca; and Oujda or Nador in the northeast down to Marrakesh, passing Fez and Meknes before joining the line from Tangier at Sidi Kacem.
A high-speed (TGV) line to link Tangier, Rabat and Casablanca opened in 2018, reducing the travel time between Tangier and Casablanca from five hours to just over two hours, with trains travelling at 320km/h. For more information see www.tgvmaroc.ma.
Also operated by ONCF, Supratours buses link many destinations to the train network.
Trains are particularly convenient around Casablanca and Rabat, with services leaving every 30 minutes between the two cities.
The overnight Tangier–Marrakesh and Oujda–Casablanca trains have sleeping cars.
There are two types of train, and the main difference between the two is comfort, rather than speed:
Rapide (Train Rapide Climatisé, TCR) – standard for intercity services.
Ordinaire (Train Navette Rapide, TNR) – less comfortable, without air-conditioning, apart from the double-decker TNR Rabat–Casablanca shuttle. Mostly late-night and local services.
First- and 2nd-class fares are available, with six seats in 1st-class compartments and eight in 2nd class. First-class tickets include a reserved seat, while in 2nd class you just sit in any empty seat. Second class is more than adequate on short journeys. For longer trips, the extra for 1st class is worth paying.
Shuttle services operate regularly between Kenitra, Rabat, Casablanca and Mohammed V International Airport, and they supplement the rapide services on this line.
Children between four and 12 years get a discount (normally 50%, less in a few cases including sleeping cars). Children aged under four travel free.
At weekends travellers get a 25% discount on return trips, on major-line trains.
All journeys in sleeping cars cost Dh370 in a four-bed couchette, and Dh480/690 for a single/double compartment.
Stations aren’t usually well signposted and announcements (in both French and Arabic) are frequently inaudible, so keep an eye out for your stop.
Most stations are located in the ville nouvelle (new town). In cities such as Tangier, Marrakesh, Fez and Rabat, the main stations are sleek affairs with free wi-fi and decent restaurants.
Stations usually have left-luggage depots, which only accept luggage that can be locked.
Check on the ONCF website (www.oncf.ma) for times and prices.
Buy tickets at the station, as a supplement is charged for buying tickets on the train. Automatic ticket machines are becoming more widespread at stations.
Buy your ticket the day before you want to travel if possible, particularly if you want to travel 1st class. Second-class seats cannot be reserved. First-class tickets can be bought up to a month before travel – advisable if travelling during major holidays, and for sleeper services.
Inspectors check tickets on the trains.
Rail Pass This is available for seven/15/30 days (Dh600/1170/2100 to travel in 2nd class, Dh900/1600/3150 for 1st class). Pass prices drop for travellers aged under 26, and again for those under 12 years.
Carte Chahab (six months, Dh265) If you’re under 26, this offers 25% to 50% discounts.
Carte Hikma (six months, Dh105) For those aged over 60, this offers 25% to 50% discounts.
Carte Ousraty (one year, Dh50 per person) For families, this offers 10% to 25% on group tickets.