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Mayan Train could cost up to 10 times more than estimated: study

Poor planning, realities of tearing through pristine jungle and rural communities, are cited

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Illustration: Tren Maya

The price tag for the Mayan Train may be 10 times more than previously estimated, according to the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness.

Moreover, the public-private project, linking far-flung Yucatan Peninsula attractions by rail, is not well-planned and stands to damage the environment and communities in its path, according to the institute’s Diagnosis Project of the Mayan Train.

After an evaluation of the estimated costs, capacity, population density, connectivity, use of the roads and comparisons with other means of transport, the 150-billion-peso budget isn’t nearly enough for a Tren Maya, as it is called in Spanish, the report states.

Under the worst-case scenario, the trail “will not fulfill its objectives of providing growth and integral development to the communities through which it will pass, and the federal government ends up subsidizing … another project without benefits for anyone.”

In addition to the economic problems, it also highlights the possible environmental damage because it crosses a “region with unique biological and cultural diversity,” so a measurement of environmental impact must be a central axis in the evaluation.

“In particular, there is concern about the possible effects on the area cataloged as a reserve of the Calakmul biosphere and the area subject to ecological conservation Balam-Kú and Balam Kin. The Calakmul region is the site with the greatest diversity of the Yucatan Peninsula, registering 80 percent of the plant species of the entire peninsula and the largest population of jaguars,” says the report, which was signed by the institute’s researcher, Ana Thaís Martínez Palacios.

The analysis puts the Mayan Train project in context, comparing it with the previous administration’s Interurban Mexico-Toluca commuter line. That project endured cost overruns of 90 percent. Blowing its December 2017 deadline, that rail line is still incomplete, with the earliest possible start date sometime in 2021.

Internationally, rail projects exceed their initial budgets by 45 percent, the report states.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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