Agreement with Mexican hotel owners will save Maya train US$150mn

Bnamericas Published: Friday, January 07, 2022
Agreement with Mexican hotel owners will save Maya train US$150mn

The Mexican government has agreed to change the route of the Maya train on the southern part of the fifth segment, running from Playa del Carmen to Tulum in Quintana Roo state, in exchange for help from hotel owners to negotiate the acquisition of new rights-of-way.

“The agreement ... involves access to landowners, who in many cases are hotel owners themselves,” the director of national tourism board Fonatur, Rogelio Jiménez Pons, told Milenio Television on Thursday. 

Jiménez, the key supervisor of the 1,500km passenger and freight railway project, confessed that the original plan to build line adjacent to federal highway 307, which leads from tourism hub Cancún to Chetumal in Quintana Roo, was the best and most obvious choice for the government, given that the rights-of-way are already owned by the nation. 

However, “doing work on the highway involved certain issues that alter traffic a bit and alter some important works in front of the hotels,” he said, adding that the new deal involves building the rail line on the western side of the Yucatán Peninsula. 

“Obviously, this situation suits them [the hotel owners], also because we save some works that involve changing power poles and pipelines,” Jiménez said, adding that the change will result in savings on project costs. 

While the cost for the project has not yet been updated, Jiménez said that the savings are in excess of 3bn pesos.

The contract for the southern section was awarded on January 29 to a consortium led by Grupo México subsidiary México Compañía Constructora for 17.8bn pesos (US$869mn). 

The route will still be parallel to the federal highway, connecting the three busiest tourist areas in Quintana Roo state – Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum – but, it will no longer affect hotel owners' business, he said. 

The government also has plans to modernize and widen the Cancún-Tulum section of the highway. 

And, although the deal is still being drafted, the Tulum hotel owners association (AHRM) already told local media on Thursday that 90% of the owners in the area back the agreement.

In previous months, businesspeople in the region have complained that they did not want the Maya train construction works affecting their business, despite the economic gains that the project would generate for them once it is in operation.

On Wednesday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent a message to those complaining.

“I would like to send a message to the Riviera Maya hotel owners to ask for their help and cooperation as a stretch of railway is being redesigned, and I really hope that they cooperate with us. It won't affect their land or their buildings,” he said during his morning press conference.

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