The Mayan Train, the great project for the Mexican Southeast

According to the initiative of the federal government, the Mayan Train has as its objective an integral project of territorial reorganization, infrastructure and sustainable tourism. If completed, the Mayan Train will connect the main tourist destinations in the states of Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

The Mayan Train route
The Mayan Train route

The first stone of its construction was laid on December 16, 2018 and the project is expected to be completed in 2024. The train is intended to offer three types of services: mass transport, tourist and commercial. The route includes 17 stations: Palenque, Tenosique, Balancan, Escárcega, San Francisco de Campeche, Mérida, Izamal, Chichén Itzá, Valladolid, Cobá, Cancún, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Bacalar and Calakmul.

As for the route that the train will follow, 95% of the line will pass through existing rights of way. This means that this transport will pass through land that is already conditioned for roads and railways.

This infrastructure project will have different construction phases. The first phase consisted of repairing the railway lines that run from Palenque to Valladolid in 2019. The construction of Selva y Caribe II will begin by 2020.

Controversies around the Mayan Train

In total, the Mayan Train will travel about 1460 kilometers which will generate jobs and detonate the economy of the region. In addition, the construction of this massive means of transportation will help contain the urban growth of the region's cities, reducing migration and decentralization. The latter will also mean better preservation of local culture and traditions.

Although ideally compensatory measures are sought to reduce negative impacts on nature, the Mayan Train is not free from criticism from indigenous and environmental groups. In response, the Mexican government has convened a citizen consultation on December 14-15, 2019, which will define the future of the project.

There is currently a dialogue program with the objective of reaching a consensus with the populations involved. As well as a search for inclusion in the processes of construction and operation.

According to the environmentalists, the new train will wipe out ecological forest reserves and endanger endemic species such as the jaguar, ocelot and quetzal. In addition to generating noise, pollution and an economy that would mostly benefit tourism entrepreneurs.

Map of the Mayan Train

This is the outline of the Mayan Train route that will go from Valladolid, Yucatan, to Tulum, Quintana Roo, from where a branch will be made to reach Cancun.

This is the outline of the Mayan Train route. Image: Fonatur
This is the outline of the Mayan Train route. Image: Fonatur