Mayan Train construction to start in mid-December

Palenque would get more tourists if a train connected it to larger attractions to the north. Photo: Getty
  • An eco-friendly hydrogen-powered train will roll through the Calakmul ecological reserve. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida, Yucatán — A construction start-date of Dec. 16 has been set for the ambitious Mayan Train project.

Ahead of that, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador will visit Yucatán on Nov. 13 to discuss the project, said Aarón Rosado Castillo, statewide coordinator of the proposal.

State governors of the south-southeast region will be part of the roundtable, he said.

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During a forum on the topic, held at the UADY Faculty of Psychology, Rosado Castillo said the process will be inclusive.

“From day one we will invite everyone to get on the train. It will not be a tender that a few will win. There will be transparency above all, to benefit the local person and then give way to other intentions,” he said.

Ecology, interaction with citizens and economic sustainability will be emphasized, Rosado Castillo pledged.

The train is meant to get tourists off the beaten path, whisking them from bustling Cancun to less visited destinations, including Mérida, Izamal and Valladolid. It will reach as far as Palenque, in Chiapas, where archaeological ruins are the main attraction.

“We are going to support tourism in this region of the country, but there will be equity; so that the tourists who come to Cancun, to Playa del Carmen, can easily explore the Mundo Maya in the southern regions,” Obrador has said. The president elect takes office on Dec. 1.

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The medium-speed train will connect 12 stations along more than 930 miles of track. The cost is likely to be between US$6 billion and US$8 billion, more than double previous estimates.

The project will kick off with ceremonial Mayan blessings, he said, after a series of consultations with indigenous communities, Rosado Castillo said. Workers will begin in Chiapas and Tabasco under a four-year timeline.

UADY Rector José de Jesús Williams said that the Mayan Train will boost the area’s economy while promoting archaeological tourist destinations by facilitating arrival of visitors and cargo.

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