Monday, May 20, 2024

President López Obrador gives an updated timeline for Maya Train

Trains will begin running on the Maya Train railroad next month, but the entire project won’t be finished until the end of February 2024, President López Obrador said on Sunday.

After completing another weekend trip to inspect work on the ambitious infrastructure project, López Obrador said on social media that the stretch of the 1,554-kilometer-long railroad between Campeche city and Cancún, Quintana Roo, will open Dec. 15.

The Maya Train will begin running between Campeche and Cancún on Dec. 15, stopping at 13 of 34 total stations. (@TrenMayaMX/X)

The section between Cancún and Palenque, Chiapas, will open on Dec. 31, while the entire railroad and its 34 stations will be operational on Feb. 29, he said.

The stretch between Campeche and Cancún includes part of Section 2 of the railroad (Escárcega-Calkiní) and the entirety of Section 3 (Calkiní-Izamal) and Section 4 (Izamal-Cancún).

Passengers seeking to travel from Mérida – the Yucatán Peninsula’s cultural capital – to the resort city of Cancún by train will be able to do so as of the middle of next month.

The Cancún-Palenque stretch runs through Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Bacalar, among other destinations.

The Maya Train’s 1,554 kilometer route has 34 stops in five states. (Tren Maya Trips)

Tourists who fly into Cancún airport will be able to board trains at an airport station to travel south to beach destinations or west to the colonial cities of Valladolid and Izamal.

The archaeological sites of Chichén Itzá and Cobá are also located along the stretch between Cancún and Mérida.

In his social media post, López Obrador said that 29 “restored archaeological areas” and six “Maya Train” hotels will be accessible to passengers once the entirety of the railroad is operational at the end of February.

In the same post, he said that Parque La Plancha, a new park in central Mérida, will open on Nov. 19 and that the new airport in Tulum will begin operations on Dec. 1.

The Tulum International Airport is scheduled to open to national air carriers on Dec. 1, with international service starting in March 2024. (Aeropuerto Internacional de Tulum/Facebook)

Several airlines have already announced flights to the government-built airport, including Delta, Aeroméxico, Spirit and Viva Aerobus.

López Obrador, who has less than a year left in office, has pursued an ambitious infrastructure agenda during his presidency.

He opened the Felipe Ángeles International Airport north of Mexico City in March of last year, after earlier canceling the previous government’s airport project, and inaugurated the Olmeca oil refinery on the Tabasco coast in July 2022, although it’s still not operating at full capacity over a year later.

The government is also close to opening a modernized rail line across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec between Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. The Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec project – which also includes highway upgrades and the establishment of new industrial parks – is touted as an alternative to the Panama Canal.

While López Obrador has championed all these infrastructure projects, and others, the one closest to his to his heart – perhaps partially because it runs through his home state of Tabasco – is the multi-billion-dollar Maya Train.

The president asserts that the railroad will spur much-needed economic and social development in Mexico’s long-neglected southeast by opening up the entire region to tourism. On Saturday, he said on social media that 100,000 people were working on the Maya Train and Tulum airport projects.

President López Obrador frequently praises the work done “’round the clock” to make sure the Maya Train is inaugurated this December. (lopezobrador.org.mx)

“Never had so many jobs been created in the southeast,” López Obrador wrote.

The success of the Maya Train project appears to hinge, at least partially, on convincing some of the millions of tourists who fly into Cancún airport on an annual basis to travel to inland destinations by rail rather than spending their entire vacation on the coast. Trains will compete with buses, which already serve the destinations through which the Maya Train will run.

López Obrador said Monday that train tickets will go on sale Dec. 1 and that trips on average will be 10% cheaper than those for buses.

The opening of the Maya Train railroad next month will no doubt give the president immense personal satisfaction, especially considering that the project has faced a range of challenges since construction began in 2020. They include 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.

There have also been doubts about whether the railroad – along which tourist, commuter and freight trains are slated to run – would actually be ready to begin operations in 2023. But despite setbacks, the government – and especially López Obrador – has remained adamant that trains will begin running this year, and, at least according to the president’s timetable, that will be the case.

Mexico News Daily 

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