By: Enrique Méndez and Nestor Jiménez
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the expansion of the project for the Maya Train, which pass through the states of Yucatán and Campeche, besides those of Tabasco, Chiapas and Quintana Roo on a 1500-kilometer route, with a mixed government-corporate investment estimated between 120 and 150 billion pesos.
At a press conference yesterday he reported that the project, which he expects to be completed in four years, would be financed with 28 billion pesos from the tourism budget and the rest with the participation of private initiative.
He said he’s talking about a modern passenger train that detonates jobs and tourism throughout the southeast, and he specified that the project is already being prepared, so that on December 1 –when he assumes the Presidency of the Republic– the call can be issued to the companies that will participate.
He explained that the special conditions for building the train were confirmed, because the right of way of the stretch from Palenque to Valladolid, of the old Southeast Railroad, was not granted in concession: “It belongs to the nation and that facilitates things because if we have the rights of way we can get to work immediately.”
López Obrador said that yesterday, during the work meeting with the next Secretary of Tourism, Miguel Torruco, it was agreed not to leave the Yucatán and Campeche out of the project.
“It’s no longer going to be Cancun to Palenque, but it’s also going to include Campeche and Yucatán. To be precise, there will be a station in Campeche, in Mérida and in Valladolid, Yucatán. The work is expanded from the 900 kilometers originally estimated, to 1,500 kilometers,” the Tabasco politician indicated.
He next offered details about the route: “For those that have more knowledge about this region of the country, and what the Train of the Southeast was, it’s Palenque, Candelaria, Escárcega –we’re going to talk about a branch to Xpujil, Campeche, which is very close to Calakmul, with an access to the archaeological zone–, and continues to the Caribbean, Bacalar, Tulum and Cancun. At the same time, the train will be built from Escárcega to Campeche, to Mérida and Valladolid, and then to Cancun. It’s kind of a ‘Y’, which includes all of the Yucatán Peninsula, plus Chiapas and Tabasco.”
He defined that we’re dealing with a relevant public work, because it will connect one of the regions of greatest mayor cultural importance in the world. “There is no other region with so much cultural richness as this one about the flourishing of the great Maya culture,” he said.
He said that almost 7 billion pesos per year would be used to finance the train from what is raised through the tourism tax.
However, since that is not enough to build it, a call will be issued to seek a partnership with private initiative and consolidate a mixed investment.
“We’re going to develop one of the most important regions. All this work is going to promote tourism and create jobs in the southeast, the country’s most abandoned region. That’s why we’re very satisfied with this agreement,” he added.
The president-elect reported that the calculations would be carried out, with an objective of having the project and the rules for bidding, in the next three months, so that when he assumes power the respective call is issued.
He insisted that by having the train’s right of way from Palenque to Valladolid, and by using the Federal Electricity Commission’s right of way and that of highways on the Valladolid-Cancun-Escárcega stretch, the Maya Train could be inaugurated “in four years, and it could be that we finish it sooner.”
He announced that the next director of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion will be Rogelio Jiménez Pons, who already exercised that position in the state of Tabasco, between 1977 and 1982, and the head of the Tourist Promotion Council will be Gabriela Cámara, chef and restaurant entrepreneur.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee