Monday, May 20, 2024

Crane collapse halts work on section of Mexico City-Toluca commuter rail

For the fourth time this year, the project to build a long-awaited Mexico City-Toluca commuter train has been halted by a mishap.

Toluca is a city in México state.

Van in Mexico City crushed by huge fallen concrete block
Another crane failure on the Mexico City-Toluca commuter rail project occurred in January in the same Mexico City borough of Álvaro Obregón, causing part of a concrete arch to fall, damaging two vehicles. There were no injuries. (Mario Jasso/Cuartoscuro)

La Jornada newspaper reported that a 200-meter long, 800-ton crane collapsed Wednesday morning in the Mexico City borough of Álvaro Obregón. The crane was placing a bridge segment on an elevated stretch of the tracks when the accident occurred.

The Mexico City government stated in a press release that there were no injuries and that the only damage was to the crane itself.

“To uncover the cause of the mishap, there will be two investigations: one conducted by Rizzani Echer [the construction company involved] and the other by the city attorney general,” the government said.

Construction in the area will be halted until the investigations are complete, after which the damaged crane will be removed. 

How this latest accident will impact plans to open the final two sections of the track this summer is still unknown. The T21 news site reported that during a late February press conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared that the entire line would be operational by August.

That same day, the president also revealed that the overall cost of the project — construction began in July 2014 during the Enrique Peña Nieto administration — had climbed to 100 billion pesos (US $5.8 billion), up from the 23 billion pesos (US $1.3 billion) López Obrador had announced last September.

Footage captured of the crane collapse as it happened. Mexico City officials said both the city attorney general and the Italian company working on the project, Rizzani Echer, would conduct parallel investigations of the incident. (SDP Noticias) 

The president inaugurated Section 1 of the CDMX-Toluca commuter train — called The “Insurgent” — on Sept. 15. 

“Finishing the first stage of this project is proof that we will not leave public works unfinished,” López Obrador said at the time.

Seven months later, the commuter rail is still only operating in the Toluca metropolitan area.

The nearly 60-kilometer (58 miles) railway is comprised of three sections. 

  • Section 1 —  the western terminus limited to the greater Toluca area — is 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) long and features four stations: Zinacantepec, Toluca Centro, Metepec and Lerma.
  • Section 2 is primarily a 4.6-kilometer (2.9 miles) tunnel through the Sierra de las Cruces. 
  • Section 3 — the eastern terminus that passes through western Mexico City for 17 kilometers (11 miles) — stops at three stations: Santa Fe, Álvaro Obregón and Observatorio, with connections to Mexico City’s Metro, the local Metrobús and its passenger bus terminal. 

La Jornada reported that of the three other accidents on the project this year, two occurred within Section 3, including another crane collapse in January — also in Álvaro Obregón. In that accident, a massive chunk of concrete fell within meters of civilians on the ground.

Television network TV Azteca published a list of accidents associated with the project, dating back to May 2016, including two fatal ones in the past 10 months.

With reports from El Financiero and La Jornada

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