The Maya Train railroad route will be modified in the Riviera Maya region of Quintana Roo, President López Obrador announced Wednesday.
Hoteliers and members of the broader business community in the Riviera Maya, a coastal region in the state’s north, have been calling for a change to the route running through the resort city of Playa del Carmen, but Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquín said last month that López Obrador had told him that construction of the railroad parallel to Federal Highway 307 would continue.
The president changed his tune on Wednesday morning, telling reporters that the railroad – one of the federal government’s signature infrastructure projects – would be rerouted.
Playa del Carmen hoteliers, business groups, unions and others objected to construction of the railroad parallel to Highway 307, arguing that the new elevated tracks would effectively divide the city in two, exacerbating inequalities between the coastal tourist zone and poor inland neighborhoods. They also said the railroad would have an adverse impact on the highway and the vehicles that use it.
López Obrador directly addressed the hoteliers at his regular news conference.
“I’ll take the opportunity to send a message to the hoteliers of the Riviera Maya, [to ask them] to help us because a new route for the Maya Train is being determined and hopefully they will cooperate. It won’t affect their land,” López Obrador said.
“A line will be built behind their land, not on the seashore but … behind [beachfront hotels],” he said without specifying whether it will be elevated or at ground level.
AMLO said he had asked Interior Minister Adán Augusto López to work on the rerouting project and engage with hoteliers.
“We’re running out of time and we can’t stop; these are works that we’re going to finish at the end of next year, so the sooner the [new] line is built the better,” he said. “So … [the interior minister] has this task and others.”
Construction of tracks between northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 307 began in Playa del Carmen last month and significant progress had been made. A consortium made up of Grupo México and Spanish firm Acciona won a 17.8-billion-peso (US $864.7 million) contract to build the southern portion of section 5 of the train, which will run between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
The army will build the northern portion of the section, which will run between Cancún and Playa del Carmen. The station in Playa del Carmen is slated to be in the city center, making a rerouting through its outskirts – as hoteliers advocated – unviable.
The US $8 billion Maya Train will connect cities and towns in Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas. López Obrador says the construction and operation of the railroad will spur economic development in Mexico’s long neglected southeast.