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Heavy equipment at work on the Maya Train project. Heavy equipment at work on the Maya Train project.

Judge orders definitive suspension of Maya Train construction in Yucatán

Two sections of the project have been suspended over environmental concerns

A federal judge has ordered the definitive suspension of the Maya Train railroad project in three Yucatán municipalities.

Yucatán-based Judge Karla Domínguez Aguilar ordered a halt to construction work in Mérida, Izamal and Chocholá in a decision handed down on Monday.

The ruling, which affects the Calkiní-Izamal and Izamal-Cancún sections of the 1,500-kilometer railroad – one of the federal government’s flagship infrastructure projects – came in response to an injunction request filed by Yucatán residents who claimed that the project will cause irreversible environmental damage.

The plaintiffs also said that communities in the three municipalities were not properly consulted or provided with all relevant information about the project.

The order follows a provisional suspension order handed down by the same judge a month ago.

maya train route
Work on section 3, in purple, and section 4, in red, has been halted by the court ruling.

The federal government will undoubtedly challenge the new ruling but such an appeal will likely take weeks to resolve. While the suspension order remains in place, no new railroad construction work can be carried out in the three municipalities but authorities and companies working on the project can continue with maintenance and upgrades of existing tracks.

A spokesman for Kanan, a Mérida-based human rights collective, said the definitive suspension ruling is significant because with it “we will be able to demand the right to public information.”

Miguel Anguas expressed confidence that residents can achieve a favorable outcome despite the government’s inevitable legal challenge.

This week’s ruling is the latest of several court orders against the US $8-billion Maya Train railroad, which is slated to begin operations in 2023 and run through Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Chiapas.

In December, a judge in Campeche granted a provisional suspension order on environmental grounds against the 222-kilometer Escárcega-Calkiní section, which a consortium led by billionaire businessman Carlos Slim has a contract to build, but a definitive suspension ruling is still pending.

Construction of the train, which President López Obrador says will spur social and economic development in the country’s long-neglected southeast, began last June. The National Tourism Promotion Fund is managing the project, which will provide a transportation connection between destinations such as Mérida, Chichén Itzá, Cancún, Tulum and Palenque.

Source: Milenio (sp), Reforma (sp) 

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