MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s President López Obrador rode a passenger train from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 17 on the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT) railroad, a $1 billion seaport-to-seaport rail project for passenger and cargo, Mexico News Daily reported. The train included former Amtrak Amfleet cars and a Budd-built dome car. The president’s test ride covered approximately 191 miles from Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.
López Obrador and others posted videos showing people applauding the train in rural areas – on tracks that hadn’t been used by passenger trains since President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) privatized the railway sector.
“More than 25 years without a passenger train passing,” Interior Ministry Luisa María Alcalde Luján wrote via official government accounts, according to the newspaper Milenio. “The people are happy.”
The trip was over the Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec, also known as Ferrocarril Transístmico, or simply Ferroistmo. Owned by the Mexican government, it is leased to Ferrocarril del Sureste Ferrosur. It was formerly leased to Genesee & Wyoming until it gave up its concession in 2007. Originally it was known as the Tehuantepec Railway.
The project includes the rehabilitation of the railway built in 1907. It started to fall out of use upon the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution and the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. As part of the project, ten industrial parks will be built in the area surrounding the railway to encourage economic investment and industrial development in the region
Freight service over Mexico’s narrowest stretch between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean will be able to transport 1.4 million shipping containers annually on journeys of less than 6 hours, Mexican officials say. Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro has said the trade corridor could account for as much as 5% of Mexico’s GDP in the future.
Forbes reported that passenger service is expected to be inaugurated next October, though López Obrador said last month that the train will be operational before his term ends on Sept. 30, 2024.