A change in the route of the Maya Train on the Yucatan peninsula will knock 5.5 billion pesos (US $287 million) off the cost of the project by eliminating a direct line between Valladolid, Yucatán, and Cancún.
The National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur) announced that the train will no longer directly connect the two cities along the Kantunil-Cancún Highway, which is operated by the construction company ICA.
Instead, the train will run from Valladolid to Cobá, Quintana Roo, and then to Tulum. At Tulum, travelers will be able to take another line north to Cancún, or south into Campeche and Chiapas.
The change, said Fonatur legal director Alejandro Varelo, will cut 55 kilometers from the total length of the Maya Train, which has an average cost of 100 million pesos per kilometer.
Varelo said Fonatur made the decision based on a cost-benefit analysis, and that it was not due to a breakdown in negotiations between the government and ICA.
“This has nothing to do with the negotiations,” he said. “The decisions are based on technical, economic and financial issues, as well as questions of social development. That’s how we make decisions; we favor areas where we want to promote more development.”
The original route would have run alongside 218 of the 241 kilometers of the Kantunil-Cancún Highway. The new route runs along state and federal highways, and there will be no need for negotiations with concessionaires.
“We are going to promote development in the Cobá area, which has archaeological importance, but we’ll be very careful with the tangible and intangible heritage,” said Varelo. “We’ll be going to an area in the Quintana Roo-Yucatán border where there is a great need for development.”
Varelo added that Fonatur will accept bids this year for three of the 10 contracts required to build the train. The first contracts will be to build the first three stretches of rail between Palenque and Escárcega, Escárcega and Campeche, and Campeche and Izamal.
The Maya Train is scheduled to begin operations in 2023.