Monday, June 24, 2024

Government blames loose clamps for Maya Train car derailment

The derailment of a single Maya Train car near Tixkokob station in Yucatán state on March 25 was caused by a failure in the track fastening system, according to Mexico’s Defense Ministry (Sedena), which operates the Maya Train.

Defense Minister General Luis Cresencio Sandoval revealed Tuesday that although the system is designed to be automated, it is still being operated manually due to its incomplete state. This manual operation — in this case, the improper clamping of tracks — is believed to be the culprit behind the car derailment.

General Luis Cresencio Sandoval at a press conference
General Sandoval said at President López Obrador’s Tuesday morning press conference that the incident was caused by human error. (Cuartoscuro)

“The incident was caused by a lack of mechanical screw fixings that ensure the change of track with the rail,” read a document displayed by Sandoval during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Tuesday morning press conference at the National Palace.

Because the train was traveling at a slow speed, approximately 10 kilometers per hour, it sustained minimal damage and there were no injuries. An investigation is currently underway by federal authorities. The train’s manufacturer, Alstom, and track constructor, Azvindi, are also involved in damage assessment.

This incident raises concerns about the Maya Train project, which has faced criticism for its premature inauguration and environmental impact. The railroad, a signature infrastructure initiative of the current government, stretches 1,554 kilometers through the Yucatán Peninsula states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán and Campeche and neighboring states of  Tabasco and Chiapas. Originally projected to cost US $7.5 billion, the government now anticipates the final price tag to exceed US $28 billion.

Initially, President López Obrador had described the derailment as “strange,” hinting at the possibility of sabotage meant to make his government look bad in the lead-up to the June elections. However, there reportedly is no evidence to support this theory.

The Maya Train began operations on three of its seven sections in December. The derailment incident occurred on Section 3, near the Tixkokob station located east of Mérida, Yucatán’s capital. 

Footage on social media showed the last car of the train, which had been bound for Cancún, off the tracks near a railway junction. The Maya Train agency released a statement acknowledging the derailment, which occurred as the train passed over a track switch at the Tixkokob station entrance.

Officials assured the public that a committee is investigating the incident and that the Maya Train will implement preventative measures to avoid similar incidents in the future.

With reports from Reforma, La Jornada Maya and Proceso

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