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The Isthmus of Tehuantepec trade corridor. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec trade corridor.

Trans-isthmus train tenders declared void; navy says prices too high

20 proposals were submitted by 5 companies but all were rejected

The navy has nullified the invitation-only tendering processes for two railroads in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec trade corridor after deciding that the only acceptable bids it received were too high.

The navy invited bids for the rehabilitation of the railroad between Ixtepec, Oaxaca, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, as well as tracks between Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and Palenque, Chiapas.

The former project involves work on 459 kilometers of tracks as well as 12 stations. Nine stations, 87 bridges and 328 kilometers of tracks need work on the Coatzacoalcos-Palenque section, which will connect to the Maya Train railroad.

The navy invited five companies to on the work. They each submitted bids for four different contracts, meaning that the navy received a total of 20 proposals.

Twelve were disqualified due to technical deficiencies, including all of those submitted by Ferrosur, a railroad subsidiary of mining conglomerate Grupo México.

The eight other bids were deemed technically sound but too pricey. They were submitted by ICA; a consortium made up of Mota-Engil and Nexumrail; Construcciones Urales; and a consortium made up of Grupo INDI and RECSA. All those companies have Maya Train contracts.

The lowest technically sound bids for the four different contracts added up to just over 52.93 billion pesos (US $2.7 billion), a figure that the newspaper Reforma reported is 19% higher than the cost of sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Maya Train, which is currently under construction in Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Chiapas.

Having rejected the bids, the navy is likely to negotiate directly with the companies in an attempt to get them to lower their prices, Reforma said. Launching new tendering processes is considered unlikely due to the length of time it would take.

The Ministry of the Navy has indicated that it wants the Ixtepec-Ciudad Hidalgo and Coatzacoalcos-Palenque railroads to be ready by January 2024. That target could be difficult to meet considering that a project to rehabilitate a 200-kilometer trans-isthmus section of railroad between Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, and Coatzacoalcos is only about 60% complete more than two years after the 3-billion-peso contract was awarded.

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec trade corridor project also includes upgrades to the ports in Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos and construction of a new trans-isthmus highway and 10 industrial parks.

President López Obrador announced just over a year ago that the navy would be given control of the corridor once it is completed. The trans-isthmus railroad is slated to begin operations this year but the modernization of the ports won’t be finished until 2023.

With reports from Reforma 

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