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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Piste residents angry as new Mayan train station is moved out of town

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Pisté has recently rebranded itself officially as Pisté de Chichén Itzá, which gives an idea of how vital the archaeological site is to the town. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Revised plans for the Mayan Train station in Chichén Itzá could jeopardize Pisté’s economy. 

The plans, announced just days ago, Tren Maya passengers disembarking on the outskirts of Pisté on their way to Chichén Itzá. Previously, the train stop was to be in town.

Locals say they are confused as to why the train station’s location has been moved, but say that having it so far out of town will hurt local businesses. 

“I know firsthand that Mayor Góngora Mejía is concerned about the move, but is hesitant to confront the state government out of fear,” said a source who’s close to Yucatán Magazine and wished to remain anonymous.

The  Mayan Train stations, including one at Chichén Itzá, have had ambitious designs from the get-go but have failed to materialize: Render: Fonatur

Given its proximity to Chichén Itzá, over the past few decades, the town of Pisté has gone from a population of just under 1,000 to over 7,000.

Most locals work directly at Chichén Itzá as vendors or have businesses within the community, like restaurants, hotels, cenotes, and handcraft shops catering to tourists. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

There is also growing unconformity with the slow pace of construction on the Mérida – Cancun highway, which has needed major revamping to make way for the Mayan Train. 

To make things worse, despite the terrible condition of the highway, the cost of the tolls only continues to increase.

Earlier: Experts on the ground share doubts about the Mayan Train

At over 600 pesos (30 USD), the Mérida-Cancún toll highway is one of the most expensive roads in the country, second only to La Marquesa-Ciudad de México.

“The road is so dangerous, there are accidents all the time. Lots of people now choose to take the free one-lane road, but it has become so congested that it’s no longer really safe either,” says Pisté local Manuel Chan. 

The decision to move the Mayan Train station to the outskirts of town is taken by many in the community as a betrayal, as one of the central tenets of the project has been to benefit local economies. 

The Mayan Train was a campaign promise of now President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was elected in 2018. The project is designed to stimulate tourism in the region and contribute to the economic development of southeastern Mexico. 

Construction of the rail network and delivery of the train is due by the end of López Obrador’s term in 2023 — though the feasibility of this deadline has been called into question several times.

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