On the occasion of Morocco’s Independence Day celebrations, ONCF and the local authorities in Settat Province inaugurated one road bridge located to the south of Sidi El Aidi and began construction of another at the entrance to the same town.
The execution of these projects, which required an investment of 25 million dirhams, falls within the scope of ONCF’s programme to secure railway crossing points by removing level crossings and replacing them with grade-separated crossings to increase the safety of local residents and traffic.
100 million dirhams have been allocated to this programme for the Berrechid-Settat corridor alone, which involves building engineering structures (road bridges, culvert crossings, pedestrian bridges, etc.), in order to remove all level crossings on this corridor by 2015.
To this end, of the 19 level crossings present on this corridor, 12 have been removed since 2010 (60%) and have been replaced by three road bridges, three culvert crossings and an underpass at a cost of 45 million dirhams.
The construction of these projects is part of ONCF’s pro-active initiative to carry out its ambitious programme, worth almost 1.5 billion dirhams, between 2010 and 2015 which aims to secure the use of railway crossing areas, both level crossings as well as areas on open track.
With regard to level crossings, this programme addresses three priority areas:
- Removing 180 LC, which represents 50% of existing LC on the national network and 100% of LC located along double tracks (Fez-Casablanca-Marrakech, Casablanca El Jadida). They will gradually be replaced by new structures (road bridges, rail bridges, etc.) at an increased rate of 40 LC per year until 2015. This rate hardly exceeded two LC per year before 2005, 15 LC between 2005 and 2009, and 20 LC between 2010 and 2012;
- Securing 260 unmanned LC by equipping them with an audible warning device, automatic barrier closure system and roadside flashing lights to signal the approach of a train;
- No further building of LC in any new projects. This is the case with the project already underway to double-track the line between Settat and Marrakech and other projects such as the Taourirt-Nador and Tangier Med Port routes.
With regard to areas located on open track (away from LC), it is worth mentioning that trespassing on railway property and crossing railway lines outside of designated crossing areas are the cause of a number of accidents recorded each year. To combat this behaviour – which often results in tragic consequences – ONCF is investing in the construction of fences and alternative crossing structures (walkways, underpasses, etc.)
In both cases (LC and open track), to make road users, local residents, and the general public aware of and accountable for their actions, communications and outreach campaigns are being carried out through the national media and in partnership with local authorities and NGOs.
The ONCF programme to remove level crossings, which was presented to His Majesty the King, on 14 November 2012 in Benguerir, is proceeding according to schedule. Its positive results are beginning to show with regard to the notable drop in the number of accidents both around level crossings and on open track.