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Partial Opening of Mexico’s Maya Train Amid Delays and Spiraling Costs

by Gabriel Martinez
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Maya Train Mexico

The Maya Train, a rail project in Mexico, commenced partial operations this past Saturday, facing significant delays and a substantial increase in budget. The initial service, which includes a twice-daily schedule, experienced setbacks as passengers at the Cancun resort endured a five-hour wait before boarding. Officials attributed the delay to the need for train reconfiguration.

Travelers were seen resting on the platform floor, and despite the inconvenience, some expressed support for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with cheers upon the train’s arrival. Similarly, travelers heading from Campeche to Cancun faced delays due to the incomplete double rail line, with the journey spanning approximately 290 miles (473 kilometers) taking about 5 1/2 hours.

The cost of the project has escalated dramatically, from an estimated $8.5 billion to potentially $28 billion. The 950-mile Maya Train aims to link beach resorts and archaeological sites, but only about one-third of the line, stretching 290 miles (473 kilometers), is partially complete. This segment was inaugurated by President López Obrador, who also faced challenges due to the completion of only a single line of the proposed double-track.

This portion of the project, connecting Campeche and Cancun, represents a third of the total plan and traverses the least controversial areas, avoiding many environmentally sensitive zones.

Ticket pricing has raised concerns about the project’s financial viability. A first-class ticket from Cancun to Merida, a popular destination, is priced at $68, compared to a $58 bus fare for the same route. The train’s feasibility is further questioned given its peripheral station locations compared to central bus departures.

Mexico’s army, responsible for the train’s operation and partial construction, has not commented on the delays or cost overruns.

President López Obrador acknowledged the project’s shortcomings and anticipated a three-to-four-year timeframe for the system to start covering its operational costs. He was unable to provide an exact figure for the construction cost, which has already escalated from an initial $8.6 billion to $22.7 billion, with a projected final cost of around $28 billion.

Environmental concerns have been paramount, especially for the unfinished sections of the train line, which involve cutting through jungles and sensitive cave systems. These aspects have drawn criticism from environmentalists, archaeologists, and other groups.

Despite the ecological implications and public outcry, President López Obrador has fast-tracked the project, aiming for completion before his term ends in September. The train’s route along the Caribbean coast poses a risk to the region’s limestone geology, characterized by extensive caves and water systems, some containing ancient human remains.

The train’s primary potential revenue source is tourism, but its appeal to tourists is uncertain due to its frequent stops, complex route, and the absence of feasibility studies. Critics, including the SELVAME coalition, argue that the train will not serve local transportation needs and express concerns about its environmental impact.

The project has been expedited by bypassing standard permitting processes and environmental impact assessments, justified by the government as a matter of national security.

In November 2021, the government mandated automatic approval for projects deemed of national interest or national security.

For comprehensive coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean, visit https://bigbignews.net/latin-america.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Maya Train Mexico

What is the Maya Train project in Mexico?

The Maya Train is a 950-mile rail project in Mexico, designed to connect beach resorts and archaeological sites. However, only about one-third of it, a 290-mile stretch, has been partly finished as of its recent partial opening.

Why were there delays in the Maya Train’s opening?

The opening of the Maya Train faced significant delays due to trains needing reconfiguration and the incomplete construction of a double rail line. Passengers experienced hours-long waits, particularly in Cancun and Campeche.

How much has the cost of the Maya Train project increased?

Originally estimated at $8.5 billion, the cost of the Maya Train project has soared to as much as $28 billion, far exceeding initial projections.

What are the environmental concerns associated with the Maya Train?

The Maya Train project has raised environmental concerns due to its route through sensitive jungle areas and cave systems rich in relics, potentially impacting the region’s limestone geology and water systems.

What challenges does the Maya Train face in terms of profitability?

Given its ticket pricing and operational costs, there are questions about whether the Maya Train will be able to cover its operating expenses and construction budget. Comparisons with bus services and the train’s route and frequency raise doubts about its appeal to tourists.

Has the Mexican government responded to the delays and cost overruns?

Mexico’s army, which operates the train and built part of the railway, has not yet responded to inquiries regarding the project’s delays and cost overruns. President López Obrador has acknowledged some issues but remains optimistic about the project’s future financial viability.

More about Maya Train Mexico

  • Maya Train Project Overview
  • Environmental Impact of Maya Train
  • Maya Train Cost Overruns
  • Infrastructure Delays in Mexico
  • Mexico’s Transportation Projects
  • President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Policies

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