The Mexico City-Toluca intercity passenger train was supposed to begin running last April but a report suggests even a 2018 completion date is doubtful. Yesterday, opposition senators demanded more information.
They also want to know what the actual cost of the project — originally estimated at 59 billion pesos (US $3 billion at today’s exchange rate) — might be.
The National Action Party (PAN) lawmakers, who demanded an update from federal Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, recalled that ground was broken for the project in July 2014.
At the time it was forecast that 30 trains of five cars each would begin running in April on the 40-minute route between the country’s capital and the capital of México state.
One delay surfaced in July when the route had to be modified after public protests against the logging of 3,300 trees in a wooded area known as El Ocotal in the municipality of Cuajimalpa.
The modification included an elevated section of railway that will run over an existing road.
The newspaper Reforma reported last week that a 2018 delivery date for the interurban train was at risk due to the slow progress of construction on the Mexico City end.
Several of the five segments making up the line are well behind schedule, including one that calls for boring two tunnels. An undersecretary at the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) gave an assurance the project was on time but declined to provide a completion date.
Yuriria Mascott also said boring the two tunnels, whose total length is 4.7 kilometers, is moving along at 16 meters a day, meaning that that process alone will take a total of nearly 300 days. That segment is just 53% complete.
Reforma quoted government officials, specialists and other sources close to the situation who agreed that the conclusion date for one of the most emblematic public works projects of the current federal administration was in doubt.
That report triggered the demand by senators for an official update as well as a confirmation of the delivery date and a report on just how much the line’s original cost has risen.
The senators believe the need to change the route indicates that the SCT did not take into consideration the project’s environmental impact, reflecting once again poor planning of the sort that caused the sinkhole tragedy on the Cuernavaca Paso Express highway, which killed two people in July.
Source: Reforma (sp)