Monday, May 20, 2024

President López Obrador inaugurates first 3 sections of Maya Train

The Campeche-Cancún stretch of the Maya Train railroad officially opened on Friday, 3 1/2 years after construction of the government infrastructure project began.

President López Obrador inaugurated sections 2,3 and 4 of the 1,554-kilometer-long railroad at a press conference in Campeche city on Friday morning.

President Lopez Obrador inaugurates first sections of Maya Train
The president held his morning press conference in Campeche on Friday. (Lopezobrador.org.mx)

“We’re very pleased to be here with you in Campeche on this truly historic day because we’re inaugurating this stretch [of railroad] from Campeche to Cancún,” he said.

The multi-billion-dollar railroad “is a project for the people of Mexico and that’s why we’re all going to take care of it,” said López Obrador, who has traveled frequently to the southeast of the country to inspect construction progress.

“It’s a project for all Mexicans … [and will] greatly help the development of the southeast,” he said.

At the conclusion of the press conference, the president, National Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval and Campeche Governor Layda Sansores unveiled an inauguration plaque.

A map of the route and stations of the Maya Train
The route and stations of the Maya Train. (Tren Maya)

López Obrador and other officials later boarded the Maya Train for the five-to-six hour, 473-kilometer trip to the Cancún Airport station. The first trip on which ordinary paying passengers will be on board will depart Campeche for Cancún on Saturday morning.

Among the 14 stations located along the three sections inaugurated on Friday is one near Yucatán state capital Mérida (in a locality called Teya) and another close to the Chichén Itzá archaeological site. There are also stations in the colonial cities of Izamal and Valladolid, both in Yucatán.

Built by private companies and the Mexican army, the railroad has a total of seven sections and 34 stations (including modest ones known as paraderos, or stops).

López Obrador said last month that the stretch between Cancún and Palenque, Chiapas, will open on Dec. 31, while the entire railroad and its 34 stations will be operational on Feb. 29, 2024.

An overhead shot of under-construction stop of the Maya Train, surrounded by rainforest.
The project has faced opposition from environmentalists over the environmental cost to Yucatán peninsula ecosystems and hydrology.(Facebook @MaraLezamaOficial)

The president inaugurated construction of the railroad in June 2020, and pledged at the time that it would be finished in 28 months, or by October 2022.

However, the project has faced a range of challenges, including court rulings that have temporarily halted work and ardent opposition from environmental groups, which say that the construction and operation of the railroad pose a threat to wildlife, subterranean rivers and the Maya jungle.

A collective of groups representing Maya communities said before construction of the railroad began that there was “nothing Maya about it.

Although the project has taken longer than he initially anticipated, López Obrador declared on Friday that the still-incomplete railroad had been built in “record time,” and reiterated his belief that it is the most important public work currently under development anywhere in the world.

He said that around 100,000 workers from all over Mexico contributed to the construction of the railroad, which, once fully operational, will connect cities and towns in five states: Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Chiapas.

With reports from El Financiero and López-Dóriga Digital

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