Key Mexico rail projects 'waiting in siding'

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mexico has lacked inter-city passenger trains since the railroads were privatized in the mid-1990s and services withdrawn, and highly anticipated plans for new high-speed lines have been put on hold following recent budget cuts. But the projects will be built, as well as an urban train to connect Mexico City to its new airport and a rail line in the country's southeastern Yucatán peninsula, the director general of the country's construction chamber CMIC told BNamericas on the sidelines of BNamericas' 4th Mexico Infrastructure Summit.

BNamericas: With the finance ministry's announcement of budget cuts to infrastructure projects, is the Mexico City-Querétaro passenger train project in jeopardy?

Iberrola Díaz: No, the project is a certainty, there is no question that it will be built. It has simply been postponed. Querétaro is one of the states experiencing the strongest growth and the train will imply a significant boost to the development of the regional economy, as well as to that of the towns through which it passes.

BNamericas: Are there any plans to build more passenger trains in other parts of the country?

Iberrola Díaz: There is the extension of the Guadalajara light rail project, which is not a subway but a kind of tramway, and there was a project on the drawing board for San Luis Potosí.

BNamericas: Is the San Luis Potosí project still a possibility, because although it is a state capital it is not as large as Guadalajara?

Iberrola Díaz: It's something that the communications and transport ministry (SCT) had been considering, an urban light rail network similar to the one in Guadalajara. Regarding the question of investment and potential revenues, the city is big enough to support such a project to connect the outskirts with the center.

BNamericas: So the SCT is focused more on urban rail networks than on reintroducing inter-city passenger services, such as the projects connecting Mexico City with Toluca and Quéretaro?

Iberrola Díaz: For cities there is no more convenient and practical method of transport than the train when it comes to mass transit, and the small number of projects that are under consideration, or even more advanced than that, are necessary and also they are feasible in terms of costs.

BNamericas: What about the proposed Mérida-Punta Venados passenger train project?

Iberrola Díaz: The Mérida-Punta Venados train line has been put on to the back burner for economic reasons, but it will perhaps become an attractive idea again in a couple of years, and not just for passengers but for freight, given the anticipated increase in activity in the oil and gas industry in the southeastern region.

There's also a project for a new airport in Cancún. The largest slice of investment in the energy sector as a result of the reforms will be in the southeast and the area is growing at a brutal rate.

BNamericas: Will the new Mexico City airport require new rail infrastructure?

Iberrola Díaz: Yes. There is also a plan for a light rail network for the new Mexico City airport. After all, we can't expect all passengers to get to the new terminal by car or bus. There will be big investment in Mexico City's infrastructure with the construction of the airport.

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  • Grupo Carso is a Mexican industrial conglomerate made up of a diversified group of companies in four business sectors: industrial, infrastructure, retail and energy, with activi...