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Maya Train chooses diesel over electric but source of fuel in doubt

Mexico doesn't produce enough diesel to satisfy domestic demand

The federal government has decided that the Maya Train will be powered by diesel rather than electricity in order to keep operating costs down.

However, Mexico doesn’t currently produce enough diesel (including the more environmentally-friendly ultra-low sulphur diesel) to meet domestic demand and therefore the train operator may have to buy imported fuel.

A cost-benefit analysis for the Maya Train completed by the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur), which is managing the rail project, found that running the train on diesel will be 6.8% cheaper than powering it with electricity.

It also said that “detailed” additional studies would be needed for an electric train and completing them could cause delays to the project.

But using diesel to power the train is not a problem-free alternative. According to the federal Energy Ministry, Mexico will not produce enough diesel to be self-sufficient even after the new refinery currently under construction on the Tabasco coast is operational.

Therefore the company that wins the contract to operate the Maya Train will likely have to purchase imported diesel.

That would be a symbolic blow for President López Obrador, a staunch nationalist who pledged on Saturday that Mexico will be self-sufficient in gasoline by 2023, the year the Maya Train is scheduled to begin operations.

The US-$8 billion 1,500-kilometer railroad is one of several large infrastructure projects the federal government plans to build before the end of López Obrador’s six-year term in 2024. Others include the Tabasco refinery and the Santa Lucía airport north of Mexico City.

López Obrador officially inaugurated construction of the Maya Train project during a tour of the Yucatán Peninsula last week.

The construction and operation of the railroad in the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Chiapas will spur economic and social development in Mexico’s long-neglected southeast, the president says.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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