Casablanca to Marrakesh by Train
Morocco by rail
From what I could tell, Morocco is reputed to have some of the best trains in Africa. As a westerner, my first thought was that this may be a pretty low bar. However, the Moroccan Rail website was pretty encouraging, promising modern, air conditioned trains offering two classes of service.
Although the train I happened to be on was not the sleek, modern, double decker depicted on the website, it was still perfectly reasonable, especially considering the roughly $15 USD price tag for first class (second class was around $9 USD). In theory, tickets could be purchased at the station with cards or cash, but the machine was somewhere between broken and working when I purchased mine, so I stuck with cash. I tried to purchase tickets in advance via the website, but the station listings are very confusing, and apparently an advance ticket purchase can only be accomplished on the website from within Morocco (I think?). I could be wrong there, but purchasing tickets at the station a half hour before departure was extremely easy.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the compartments, which featured four seats on either side facing each other, and the air conditioning only brought the temperature down to a level at which you would only be sweating lightly, but again, it got the job done. Bathrooms are available in each car, but they weren’t anything more than holes to the passing ground below.
The trip from Casablanca’s main station to the end of the line in central Marrakesh takes a little over 3 hours, and the train was right on schedule. Seats are assigned, but my companions left their seats and joined me in my compartment, and the only gentleman who had one of those seats was kind enough to switch. If you get hot sitting in your compartment, I’d recommend walking the length of the train. Some of the cars will have their doors open, letting in a great breeze. Just be careful, there’s nothing to stop you from falling out or getting taken out by a post if you stick your head out. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get the beautiful, modern (crisply air conditioned in my imagination) train on the website, but for a few bucks I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.