The federal government has rejected an assertion that the Mexico City-Toluca intercity passenger train project is behind schedule and will not be completed by the end of the year.
The CEO of CAF México — the company responsible for supplying the trains for the new line — said Tuesday that the project will not be finished in its entirety by the end of 2018, citing infrastructure delays.
Maximiliano Zurita Llaca stated that the company’s work included “laying the tracks [and] optical fiber” as well as erecting signage and equipping a substation to support the new line.
But he said it was impossible for CAF to complete the work in 2018 because most of the columns and beams that will support the elevated track have still not been built.
“There won’t be enough time this year . . . how can the tracks be laid if there are no beams?” he questioned.
“I come in after the civil [engineering] work,” he added.
Tracks have already been laid on 18 kilometers of line between Zinacantepec and Lerma in México state but that represents less than two-thirds of the entire project.
“The stretch to Lerma is quite advanced, it will certainly be able to open this year . . .” Zurita said.
However, a lot of work remains to complete the rest of the line and the two Mexico City stations that will be located in the business district of Santa Fe and near the existing Observatorio Metro station.
The final stretch of the line between La Marquesa and Observatorio is 37% complete and scheduled to be finished in May but Zurita said that completing that infrastructure was not the only work that needs to be finished to enable the line to fully open.
“The terminal complex at Observatorio is a four-year project,” Zurita said.
However, the CEO stated that CAF was not responsible for any delays, explaining that it already has 23 trains ready for service and the remaining seven should be available by April.
He also said that CAF is ready to lay the remaining tracks as soon as the infrastructure is ready and the company is given access to start the work.
In a prepared statement issued later the same day, the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) countered Zurita’s comments.
“The statements of Maximiliano Zurita [only] constitute a partial view of the reality of the project, and were said from the perspective of the company that is only in charge of supplying 30 trains . . . not for the installation of tracks, overhead cables and systems, which is the responsibility of other companies in the consortium,” the statement said.
The SCT also reported that the project remained on track to start trial runs later this year, although it has previously announced projected completion dates only to revise them later.
“The Secretariat of Communications and Transportation reports that in accordance with the progress made so far on the Mexico-Toluca interurban train project, the commitment to start tests in the second half of this year is maintained,” the statement said.
It added that “there is a commitment from the Mexico City government to accelerate the works . . . to conclude them in accordance with the schedule.”
The federal agency also declared that only the government was in a position to announce when the new line would start operations.
“It is the job of Mexican authorities to determine and report on the dates of the completion of the underlying works of the interurban train project. On repeated occasions, they have stated that they will conclude [the project] in a timely manner this year,” it said.
Today, the SCT’s head of rail and multimodal transportation said operating tests are expected to begin at the end of September, and take three months to complete.
Guillermo Nevárez predicted the service would open to the public at the beginning of next year.
When fully completed, the estimated 59-billion-peso (almost US $3.2 billion at today’s exchange rate) project will cut travel time between Toluca and Mexico City to just 39 minutes and have the capacity to transport around 230,000 passengers daily.