News & Reviews News Wire Mexico’s president-elect announces plans for three new passenger rail lines

Mexico’s president-elect announces plans for three new passenger rail lines

By Trains Staff | July 11, 2024

Sheinbaum to continue rail-building policies of predecessor

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Diesel multiple-unit trainset passing through station
The Yucatan Peninsula’s Maya Train, shown at its  Chichén-Itzá station, will provide a model for the mix of military and corporate development for three new passenger lines to be built by the government of Mexico’s president-elect, Claudia Sheinbaum.  Tren Maya

MEXICO CITY — Mexican president-elect Claudia Sheinbaum on Wednesday announced plans for developing three new passenger rail lines under her administration, building on a commitment earlier this week to extend one of the signature policies of her predecessor and mentor, current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“We have made the decision to continue building trains,” Sheinbaum said during a Monday press conference, according to a report in the newspaper Proceso. “Now we are going to go north.” The goal is to build some 3,500 kilometers (almost 2,200 miles) of new passenger lines, she said.

On Monday, Sheinbaum said a Mexico City-Nuevo Laredo route would be one of the new lines. Wednesday, she identified two more: a Mexico City-Querétaro-Guadalajara route, and a route from Pachuca to Felipe Angeles International Airport, or AIFA, north of Mexico City. Those lines would range in length from 150 kilometers (93 miles) for the Pachuca-AIFA route to 581 kilometers (361 miles) for Mexico City-Guadalajara and 1,143 kilometers (710 miles) for the line to Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Laredo, Texas.

On both Monday and Wednesday, Sheinbaum said the new projects would follow the model established by the controversial Maya Train project, with a mix of military and corporate participation.

“One part would be [with] military engineers, who always help us a lot,” she said Wednesday, “and on the other hand, [there will be] bidding for companies to participate.”

She also indicated her plan would do away with the previous proposal by López Obrador that the companies holding the freight concessions on a desired passenger route would also be responsible for passenger service. All three routes announced by Sheinbaum were among the seven included in López Obrador’s plan last year [see “Mexican government seeks passenger service …,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 21, 2023].

“We have to come to an agreement with the concessionaires,” Sheinbaum said, according to El Economista, “because the idea is that they keep their cargo concession, but … we can make passenger trains on the same right-of-way.” Alternately, she said, new right-of-ways could be built for the passenger service.

Sheinbaum said analysis of the projects is already under way so that the projects can be put out to tender quickly after her Oct. 1 inauguration. The aim is to begin construction in 2025, with the two longer routes likely to take four to five years to build. Agence France-Presse reports that plans are for the new lines to be electrified with top speeds of 160 kilometers per hour (99 mph), with the equipment to be built in Mexico. Alstom, Spain’s CAF, and China’s CRRC all have plants in Mexico.

6 thoughts on “Mexico’s president-elect announces plans for three new passenger rail lines

  1. Looking at a bigger picture, that planned electrified hi-speed line from Mexico City to Laredo, MX/TX would/could/should be a big part internationally, (as well as local and regional within Mexico) with connections of all the previous recent discussions we had about Denver to Milwaukee and Chicago via South Dakota. But why not El Paso,TX/Cuidad Juarez, MX, instead of Laredo, TX/MX??? I suppose more direct connections with Houston/Dallas/Fort Worth are being considered??? The railroad passenger industry needs to compete with the airlines using high speed strategic connection with less pollution and emissions using electrification from safer nuclear (liquid fluoride thorium reactor aka LFTR) fuel.

  2. Does she have a business plan to provide for the operating costs? I also note that labor is cheap in Mexico but not in the US, so this is an advantage. But likely the difficulty in building the rail lines is not as great as the difficulty in meeting your variable costs. Finally, as past articles in Trains has shown, passenger rail looses money and can never make a profit, especially if the government is the owner, operator. Still cheaper to fly and subsidize passenger costs than to build a new transportation mode. But, what do I know…..? Cheers

    1. In the long run will it be cheaper to continue pouring taxpayer money into the airline industry, which has never made a profit? Or should we take a balanced approach and invest in several forms of transportation that work together, air, rail, highway, etc. it would seem that Mexico has decided on the latter of the two.

  3. Trains Magazine’s last coverage of passenger rail in Mexico that I recall was about half a century ago. Meaning as best as I can figure, not much passenger rail has happened in Mexico for half a century. To go from next to nothing, to hundreds of kilometers of new HSR r/w, is quite a concept.

    Then again, maybe a not terribly prosperous country can build things faster and better (and cheaper?) than California and New York, each of which considers itself the economic sun around which the rest of us rotate in orbit. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mexico finishes an HSR line before California does. Or before the Second Avenue Subway reaches Harlem. At a fraction the cost.

    1. Having access to a readily available and cheap labor force (military) makes the construction of any rail project in Mexico seem more plausible.

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