The Mayan Train will start construction in Chiapas and Tabasco next year, said President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador after meeting with state officials in Palenque.
The train, first proposed while López Obrador was campaigning for office, would link Cancun to cities across the peninsula, encouraging sun-and-fun tourists to visit Mexico’s less-traveled archaeological sites.
The massive project will have a budget of 16 billion pesos, said López Obrador. Bids will be sent out immediately when he takes office on Dec. 1.
In a private meeting at a hotel in Palenque, the current and elected governors of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Quinta Roo and Yucatán — states the train will serve — gave their support to the construction of 150,000 kilometers of rail, which will carry both passengers and cargo.
“It is a program of all with participation of the municipal governments, state governments, the federal government, civil society, national investors, and if necessary, foreign investment,” he said.
The project has community-level support, said López Obrador, adding that ejidatarios and small landowners have already been consulted and approve of the rail line.
“People want this for the southeast, because if we look at the map, we can summarize that in the last 30 years, development has focused on the Riviera Maya, on the tip, in Cancun, while the rest of the southeast was abandoned,” said López Obrador.
“This must be considered a program of the nation for the development of Mexico,” added the president-elect at the meeting, which drilled down into the technical, financial and environmental aspects of the work.
López Obrador stressed that public-private investment will be in the order of 150,000 million pesos.
An earlier attempt to build a large-scale rail project on the Peninsula failed in 2015 under the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, when an austerity plan forced budget cuts.
The starting points will be the Mayan city of Palenque, Chiapas; and Cancún, in Quintana Roo, with two routes covering 1,500 kilometers across the east and west coasts of the Yucatán Peninsula.
In addition to Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, Calakmul in Campeche and Tulum in Quintana Roo, the train will reach tourist spots such as Campeche City, Mérida, Izamal and Valladolid, colonial cities which for decades have served as gateways to the Mayan world.
Sources: Notimex, El Universal, Animal Politico