A court in Mérida, Yucatán, has issued another provisional suspension order against the construction of the Maya Train railroad in Quintana Roo.
A second injunction against the Cancún-Tulum section of the 1,500-kilometer line was granted to Defendiendo el Derecho a un Medio Ambiente Sano (Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment), or DMAS, a Cancún-based environmental organization.
The court previously issued a provisional suspension order against section 5 of the project due to the “imminent risk” of “irreversible damage” to the Mayan jungle, caves, subterranean rivers and cenotes (natural sinkholes) and the absence of environmental studies and permits. A ruling on whether that order should be made definitive will be handed down on May 13.
In the second lawsuit, DMAS argued that the project violates constitutionally-enshrined rights to due process and a healthy environment.
“They say that without cenotes there is no paradise. We say that without an environmental impact process there mustn’t be a project,” it said in a statement.
There is significant opposition to the southern part of the Quintana Roo section of the railroad, which will run between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
The federal government modified the route earlier this year, moving the section inland after the business community in Playa del Carmen complained about its construction through the center of the coastal resort city. Jungle has already been cleared for the construction of tracks, triggering protests both at the site of the deforestation and online.
Environment Minister María Luisa Albores acknowledged Monday that definitive environmental approval hasn’t been granted for the Cancún-Tulum leg as well as three other sections of the US $10 billion project. A decree issued by President López Obrador in November allows work to proceed with only provisional approval.
The government has overcome several previous injunctions issued against the railroad and is determined to complete the project next year.
López Obrador – its most prominent proponent – signed a contract on Monday to purchase 42 trains for the railroad, on which tourist, commuter and freight services will run through the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Chiapas.
The trains, consisting of a total of 210 rail cars, will be made in Mexico by Alstom, a French company that acquired Canadian-German rail transport manufacturer Bombardier Transportation early last year.
“Twenty years ago we signed a contract with Bombardier, now associated with Alstom, to buy 45 trains and 400 cars for the Mexico City Metro. Today we’re signing with the same companies for the purchase of 42 trains with 210 cars for the Maya Train,” López Obrador wrote on Twitter and Facebook.
“The construction was done and will be done in Ciudad Sahagún, [Hidalgo], always thinking of employment for Mexicans,” the president said.
The federal government announced almost a year ago that a consortium including Alstom was the successful bidder in an international tendering process for the acquisition of rolling stock and rail systems for the Maya Train railroad. The consortium submitted a bid of 36.6 billion pesos (US $1.8 billion) to supply rail systems and 42 trains.
Alstom was part of a consortium that built line 12 of the Mexico City Metro system, part of which collapsed a year ago today, causing an accident that claimed the lives of 26 people. Another member of that consortium was Carlos Slim’s Carso Infrastructure and Construction, which is building section 2 of the Maya Train.
With reports from Milenio